Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

So how’s the reading challenge coming along?


We’re half-way through May so I guess it’s time to check in on how my challenge to make back all my rates by reading the equivalent value of books from the library is coming along.

As in the picture above – it’s going swimmingly. 🙂

I was prompted to write this post by the following tweet:

I answered that I’m currently up to 62 books in 2021 – (it’s now 64) – and someone asked for some recommendations.

So, roughly a third of the books I’ve tackled so far have been Thumping Good Reads.

Both the McTiernan books were audiobooks that I borrowed from the library and listened to while I was driving around South Australia. It was a terrifically efficient way to read, except that now the big burly male protagonist will forever have a deep woman’s voice in my head. But the reader had the Irish accent down pat.

I really enjoyed the Hayfield novels ‘Wife After Wife’ and ‘Sister to Sister’ too. I absolutely love Tudor history and she had the brilliant idea of transferring the Tudor story to modern times. For example – Henry VIII isn’t a king anymore – kings have no real power in our society. Instead, he’s a media magnate. He can’t behead his wives either, so how would these marriages come to an end nowadays? I particularly enjoyed how she got around the thorny problem of Anne of Cleves – there’s no blaming Hans Holbein for a flattering, deceptive portrait when we have cameras, phones and videos!

I read ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ before I watched the Netflix series. This book was so beautifully written that, instead of galloping through it like I usually do, I’d put it down after nearly every chapter just so I could savour the language.

‘The Thursday Murder Club’ was completely unexpected. It’s written with such clever, witty English humour, while the premise of a group of old=age pensioners getting together to solve a murder is something I’ve never come across before. I loved it and can’t wait for the next in the series to be released.

I’m reading all of the books Rosalie Ham has written because next week I’m going to a free talk at the library -( should I count this for… say… $10 off my total for the challenge???) – about her sequel to ‘The Dressmaker’ called ‘The Dressmaker’s Secret.’ She’s a very good writer, but ‘There Should be More Dancing’ had me hooked from the start. The protagonist, Margery Blandon, sees herself as such a virtuous, upright person but she’s simply AWFUL. I killed myself laughing when her husband said, ” I thought that when I opened you, Margery, I’d find a pearl. Instead, I found an oyster.” This is such a poignant, sad, yet funny book.

Stephen King recommended ‘Find You First’ on Twitter so I tracked it down. It’s a fast-moving thriller and it kept me guessing. I also included his own book, ‘Later.’ King has written so many books. When he’s on point, his stories crackle. This one was great.

‘Olive, Mabel and Me: The story of two very good dogs,’ is written by Andrew Cotter, the Scottish sports commentator who found internet fame by posting videos of his 2 labradors when he got bored during lockdown. Of course, I was always going to love this book. 🙂 If you haven’t seen them before, the videos are well worth watching.

The other books in the list are all very well-known and I was just late to the party.

A quick glance to the side and you’ll see that I’m past the halfway mark – I’ll be gliding smoothly towards the finish line now!

An added bonus that i didn’t expect is that because I’m reading, reserving and picking up so many library books, the dogs and I are walking to the library at least twice a week. That’s a 5KM round trip. It gives me over half my 10,000 steps for the day and leaves me with a feeling of having accomplished something. Today we left at 10 AM to drop off ‘The Good Sister’ by Hepworth – (an excellent read – I couldn’t put the bloody thing down so I finished it in a day) and a Lincoln Rhyme novel. We were back by 11 – our walking times are getting better!

I know that this is a FIRE blog and that there are absolutely no finance books on my list. That’s not to say I didn’t read any, but life isn’t made up of finance alone. There’s absolutely nothing better than getting lost in the world of a good book.

As George RR Martin said in ‘A Dance of Dragons’ –

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads leads only one.”


  1. Dragon Gal

    Hi! I’d seen the video of the dogs and thought it was hilarious. I didn’t know the book was about the two of them! Lots of great suggestions!
    I don’t think you should feel the need to have finance books on a FIRE blog. I’m on FIRE and rarely read FIRE books. Maybe its because I already live FIRE that I don’t feel the need to read as many books.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Life’s a wild and free rode through all the available books.
      Novels are my jam.

  2. Budget Life List

    You had me at – retirement means more time for reading. ??

    • FrogdancerJones

      If only I’d known about this sooner!!!!

  3. sandyg61

    I’ve just finished Mother-in-law by Sally Hepworth while on holidays and enjoyed it a lot. I love the way it’s told from two sides and how the stories meld. So many on your list to add to mine. Being back at work casual means less time for reading but they are all waiting for me.

    • FrogdancerJones

      That’s the good thing about reading.
      It’s always there, waiting.

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