With just a few weeks left of 2019 and Christmas in the middle of it, I felt like now was a good time to share with you the books I have read this year.
Last year, I set myself a target of 12 books and managed 13. I raise the bar to 14 for 2019 so let’s see if I managed it.
I set up the Farmer’s Wife and Mummy Book Club around this time last year in the hope that people, with a love or interest in the countryside and farming would come together and share their latest reads.
The first book we all decided to read was the Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young.
As the first book of the year, I remember being very disappointed about this. Written by an actual farmer, I expected great support for the industry but instead I felt that Young was an insider critic and I feared than should people from a non-farming lifestyle read this, they would believe the propaganda in the media. Quite disappointing really. If it hadn’t been the first book club read, I don’t think I would’ve finished it.
News from Thrush Green by Miss Read was a charity shop find and, as part of a retro series, I worried that I should have read the rest of the series but, I needn’t have worried. A good easy read after the first disaster.
Our Farm-A Year on the Life of a Smallholding by Rosie Boycott was brilliant. I enjoyed this one immensely. The honest account of what it is really like raising animals and living in a small village. I was sad when this one came to an end.
Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain was another series book but one which you don’t need to have read all of the other books. I was delighted by this book and read it in record speed. I was also happy to have discovered a new author and I am going to read more of Heidi’s books in 2020.
Till The Cows Come Home by Sara Cox was most anticipated and I reviewed the book just before it came out. I really enjoyed this. Documenting the early life of the famous DJ on her dad’s farm in Bolton.
A Country Escape by Katie Fforde was another easy reader and, while she people nub these type of books, I try believe reading is reading and, if the plot and characters are strong enough then that is ok for me.
A Cotswold Family Life by Clare Macintosh was adapted from her magazine column in Cotswold Life and the small snippets really appealed to me because they were so easy to read with three small children and a busy life. I laughed out loud at times so funny were her tales and I hope there will be some kind of sequel, now that they have moved to Wales.
A Country Life by Veronica Henry was another charity shop find and was ok. Nothing to write home about but number nine on the list. It was a definite slow starter and took me much longer than usual to finish. Several lives intertwined and promise of changes only to go back to how it was in the beginning. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. It’s an easy reader but there was an incident of bad language that I found unnecessary and a couple of sexy scenes which just didn’t fit with the rest of the book.
The Strawberry Their by Joanne Harris was probably my most anticipated book of the year. I read her other books years ago and was so excited by this. I think I read it in a weekend. I was eager to read the next stage on the journey of Vianne, Anouk and Rosette. It didn’t disappoint. I had very little conversation with the farmer the week I read this.
I read the Mrs Hinch book in a hope that I would be inspired to keep a tidier life. It worked and even inspired me to ‘Hinch’ my fridge. My house will probably never be tidy with the mini ferals but you know what? That’s ok. Like when you diet for one day and feel thinner, reading the book has made me feel a bit better about cleaning and becoming more organised. With three kids and a farm, I see nothing wrong with that.
I then had a bit of a book drought in June and this was remedied with Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley. This was the perfect read to get me back in. A twisting tale of love, coming of age and finding yourself after life as a wife and mother. I really thought one of the main characters, Joe was In love with Dan but I was totally wrong and I’m not spoiling it for you. You will have to read it yourself to find out
My favourite book of the year was A Farmer’s Diary A Year at High House Farm by Sally Irwin. While it may be a busman’s holiday (Sally and her husband Steve are sheep farmers), it is refreshingly honest and, if you really want to know what life is like on a farm then this is the book for you. Describing herself as probably the shortest farmer in England, Sally lives with her family and a lot of sheep in the wilds of Northumberland. Sally is so frank about her struggles with mental health and grappling animals and farm machinery with very short arms. I absolutely loved every word and I suffered from an epic book hang over for a long time after. Imagine my joy then to discover a sequel is coming in 2020.
Kitty’s Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow was another easy reader but one which I couldn’t put down. So many twists and turns and I enjoyed it very much. Especially as it was set on a chicken farm. I think I like books like this because I too came from a non-farming background and I can relate to many of the mistakes the character make.
Call the Vet by Anna Birch was another charity shop find. I wasn’t sure about the book as it is a memoir. I always wanted to be a vet growing up though (much to my husband’s annoyance) is it was right up my street, especially because Anna is a farm vet. I suppose it is a bit of a coming of age story as it tells the story of Anna’s first job out of university and love in the countryside. I did enjoy it though.
I am a big fan of Amanda Owen and I loved her third book, Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess. Just like the others, it didn’t disappoint. Amanda has some wonderful stories about farming and life and I enjoyed it immensely. I read this book at the beginning of August and the title took me to book 16 of the year.
I was set for an absolute record but, I am afraid that is where my 2019 reading journey ended. I just didn’t have the time or inclination to pick up another book and, I now have a reading pile which is so large, it has daunted me.
I have a review book to read by the end of the year but, with Christmas, I am under no illusion that this title may well be added to my first read of 2020.
As I mentioned earlier, I am very excited about Sally Urwin’s new book.
So for 2020? I am not setting myself a target. I don’t need the pressure. I am pleased with my 16 books which happened in just over eight months rather than 12. What have you read this year?