Project 24: the books (and a few stats)

I bought my final book of 2017 a couple of weeks ago and, barring an accidental purchase in the next fortnight, I have successfully only bought 24 books for myself in 2017! It’s been difficult to restrain myself, and I’ve definitely missed going and browsing and picking up handfuls, but it’s also been nice to know that I’ve read more from my tbr pile than I’ve added to it. In 2018, I’m not doing any fixed restrictions for the books I buy, but I’m going to Try To Be Sensible. Not least because my little flat doesn’t really have room for any more books.

Anyway, here are the 24 books that made the grade this year, and why I chose them. They’re in approximate order – i.e. when I remembered to write the in the list in my diary.

1. Dearest Andrew by Vita Sackville-West
I did really enjoy this collection of letters but, tbh, the reason I bought them was that I’d gone several weeks of the new year without buying any books and I cracked.

2. Norman Douglas by H. Tomlinson
I collect Dolphin books when I come across them, as they’re beautiful little editions – and mostly authors writing about other authors, which is a genre I v much appreciate.

3. The Runaway by Claire Wong
Claire is a friend of mine – we used to go to the same church in Oxford – so I was definitely going to be buying her (very good) novel when it came out, Project 24 or no Project 24.

4. The Pleasures of Reading: a Booklovers’ Alphabet by Catherine Ross
Yes, I was doing some vanity searching for this blog, and discovered that I’d been quoted in this book – so naturally wanted a copy.

5. A Winter Away by Elizabeth Fair
Rachel and I were discussing this in an episode of our podcast, and the local library didn’t have it. (I think I might be buying quite a few Dean Street Press editions when Project 24 restrictions are lifted…)

6. Sunlight in the Garden by Beverley Nichols
I’d joyously rushed through the first two books in this trilogy, and couldn’t wait to get to the third. Je ne regrette rien.

7. The Pelicans by E.M. Delafield
One of my finds of the year – can’t believe this obscure EMD title was on the shelf in a bookshop I went into. Sure, it wasn’t her best novel, but the excitement of finding it was precious!

8. Country Notes by Vita Sackville-West
On the same trip, I went a bit mad and got this one too. Book fever.

9. All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim
This is the obligatory oops-I-actually-already-owned-it purchase of the year. At least the new edition was much nicer.

10. Catchwords and Claptrap by Rose Macaulay
A beautiful Hogarth Press edition of a little Macaulay work – snapped up in an antiques shop in Ludlow.

11. The ABC of Authorship by Ursula Bloom
A fun, quirky find from the 1930s, advising how to make money from writing. Memorable for suggesting rhyming couplets of household tips would ‘always have a market’.

12. Jacob’s Room is Full of Books by Susan Hill
I was never going to leave the sequel to Howards End is on the Landing until 2018, was I?

13. Insomniac City by Bill Hayes
A new book by the late Oliver Sacks’ partner – a beautiful ode to New York and to Sacks.

14. Letters From Klara by Tove Jansson
A newly-translated collection of Jansson stories is always an event on my calendar. These didn’t quite live up to my hopes, but still very grateful to have them available in English.

15. ABC of Cats by Beverley Nichols
My Nichols obsession continues apace – as does, apparently, my penchant for books with ‘ABC’ in the title.

16. Stephen Leacock by Margaret McMillan
I bought this as a souvenir of visiting Leacock’s house – still can’t believe I actually got to see it.

17. My Remarkable Uncle by Stephen Leacock
And one of my Canadian purchases had to be a Leacock, of course.

18. Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson
19. The Equations of Love by Ethel Wilson
A beautiful brace of novels by this Canadian author, whom I know through her Persephone book.

20. A Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy
A beautiful NYRB Classics edition of a book that Sacks writes a lot about – also bought in Canada.

21. Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman
My final Canadian purchase on this list – though actually the first book I bought while in Canada.

22. David of Kings by E.F. Benson
I had to add this nice edition of a Benson novel I’d not heard of before to my teetering Benson stacks.

23. Aspects of E.M. Forster by Rose Macaulay
And another Hogarth Press Rose Macaulay book!

24. E.M. Delafield by Maurice McCullen
I didn’t know this study of EMD existed until it was mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago – so I went online and found a copy. It’s part of an American series on English authors – from which, amusingly, I bought a study of A.A. Milne that last time I did Project 24, I think.

So, there you go. Shall we have a few stats? Well, why not.

8 fiction / 16 non-fiction – a bit surprisingly, I buy more non-fiction when up against it. Perhaps I’m more willing to buy fiction speculatively, whereas when I need to know that I’ll enjoy the books, I tread the safer ground of books-about-things-I-like?

8 by men / 16 by women – hands up who’s surprised?

5 by Canadians / 3 by Americans / 1 by a Hungarian / 1 by a Finn / 14 by Brits – again, not the biggest surprise; probably more or less reflects by usual ratios, albeit with Canadians a little more represented than usual.

4 were published in 2017 – including the translated book. Not many, but still more than I was expecting.

4 authors appeared twice – Rose Macaulay, Beverley Nichols, Ethel Wilson, Vita Sackville-West.

10 read / 14 unread – quite a few only arrived on my shelves in the final three months of the year, but I do have a few I should get to sooner rather than later.

6 thoughts on “Project 24: the books (and a few stats)

  • December 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I’m very impressed Simon! I could never stick to something like this – and I’m glad you included a Beverley in your purchases! :)

  • December 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Oh well done, I could never have stuck to it, when it comes to book buying I am spectacularly undisciplined. Haven’t read any of your 24, though I have added a couple of Beverley Nichols books to my tbr following yours and Karen’s enthusiasm.

  • December 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Well done! I am, of course, very pleased by all the Canadians represented here but I think the Ursula Bloom is the one of the 24 that intrigues me most. I would love some modern-day rhyming couplets about household tips! Surely there is a (heavily ironic, undoubtedly hipster) market for this?

  • December 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Well done. I’ve gone the whole year without buying a book, my only new editions were from my &other stories subscription. I was surprised how easy I found it, in 2018 I’ll be allowing myself to buy books but being sensible about it too.

  • December 19, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Did Having a limit mean you were more slec I’ve in what you bought? I’m thinking that if I had such a limit myself every time I was tempted to buy something I would be wondering if that was th best choice. What of something even better came along and I couldn’t get it because I had exceeded my quota?


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