Saturday, 30 December 2017

75 books read in 2017


Feeling creatively somewhat wrung out after 9/10 books of all sorts in ten years, I decided to put creating aside for 2017, and concentrate on other things, mainly teaching, mentoring and hugely important this last - reading. My own reading has taken such a back seat over the last few - time to catch up. 

I aimed at 100 books in the year, was joined by some friends, and we began a closed Facebook group - all with the same goal: to read as much as we could. We weren't all reading the same books, I hasten to add - not a 'reading group' - just a group of interested people, all reading, and all making a note - nothing more, of the books they'd read. A note, a word attached to an uploaded cover image soon increased to a line or two of subjective comment. And the group burgeoned to over 200 names. 

Did I make 100? No. I read 75. They are listed below in order of reading. Nothing planned - just following my nose and interests, some I ought to have read and somehow never did, others I stumbled across, some recommendations, others that has been on my shelf for decades...and occasional light humour as counterpoint. But it is interesting (to me) to see what categories they fell into:

Novels: 29
Short Fiction: 9
Poetry: 14
History/Military History: 5
Biog/autobiog: 4
Humour: 3

the rest... all sorts - philosophy, journalism, religious analysis...

I re-read some of my favourites by friends and colleagues, including The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Some of Us Glow More than Others by Tania Hershman, Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy, The Flood by Maggie Gee, The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies, and Voices from Stone and Bronze by Caroline Davies. All to be recommended highly. 

I chose some books by writers of colour  - novels, poetry, short stories.  

The writer/book I am most pleased to have met/ best read of the year (thanks to a recommendation from one of the group members): Plainsong, by Kent Haruf  

I hated and discarded only one book: Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. 

Here's the list for anyone who is interested. ( [R] means a re-read.) 



[R]The Many                   Wyl Menmuir            #1     Salt a novel




Speak, Memory                  Vladimir Nabokov   # 2           Putnam           autobiograpy
The Shock of the Fall        Nathan Filer             #3           Harper/Collins novel

The Sun Fish             Eilean Ni Chuilleanain     #4           Gallery poetry
[R]They Called it Passchendaele  L MacDonald #5           Penguin military history
Ways of Seeing               John Berger             #6            Penguin           non fic
G                                       John Berger            #7             Bloomsbury     novel
Time's Arrow                     Martin Amis            #8             Penguin novel
First Person &other stories  Ali Smith        #9             Penguin short stories
The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson     #10           Penguin           novel
Too Loud a Solitude               Bohumil Hrabal   #11           Abacus           novel
Sieze the Day                    Saul Bellow              #12           Penguin         novel


The Book of Memory            Petina Gappah     #13           Faber             novel



The Way of the Strangers: encounters w Islamic State  G Wood   #14  Allen Lane religion/current 

The Bright White Tree            Joanna Seldon    #15            Worple poetry 
A Life Discarded          Alexander Masters        #16           4th Estate biography


Plainsong                            Kent Haruf             #17            Picador novel

[R] In Another Country David Constantine       #18             Comma            short stories
Trump and me                          Mark Singer     #19             Penguin journalism/bio
[R] Dark Roots                       Cate Kennedy   #20             Atlantic short stories
The Hundred Fathom Curve /John Barr           #21            Red Hen poetry

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl/Grayson Perry     #22  Vintage autobiography

The Havocs                              Jacob Polley   #23             Picador           poetry
Olive Kitteridge                    Elizabeth Strout   #24       S/Shuster novel in stories
[R]Never Let Me Go             Kazuo Ishiguro   #25             Faber             novel
To Kill a Mockingbird        Harper  Lee            #26             Arrow             novel
Britty Britty Bang Bang    Hugh Dennis           #27     Headline non fic/humour/history
[R] The Flood                   Maggie Gee           #28             Saqi novel
[R]The Essex Serpent        Sarah Perry           #29            Serpent's Tail  novel
lThe Runaway Jury       John Grisham           #30           Arrow               novel
Seven stories         Gabriel Garcia Marquez   #31           Penguin            short stories
Beloved                        Toni Morrison            #32           Vintage              novel



The Handmaid's Tale                   Margaret Attwood    #33                 Vintage          novel
After the Funeral                       Agatha Christie           #34     Harper Collins     novel crime

Contemporary Black British Short Stories   ed. Jacob Ross  #35 Peepal Tree   short stories
The Riddle of the Sands            Erskine Childers                    #36           Dover           novel 

The Berlin Wall Cafe                                Paul Durcan       #37             Harvill         poetry
Springlines       Clare Best /Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis         #38     Little Toller poetry/art/essay
The Snow Child                          Eowyn Ivey                   #39 Tinder            novel
In the Wild Wood                Frances Gapper                    #40     Cultured Llama  short stories
Boy in the Striped Pyjamas  John Boyne                       #41                                 novel
[R]Twenty Prose Poems             Baudelaire                     #42         City Lights     prose poetry

His Bloody Project  Graeme McRae Burnet                   #43       Contraband        novel 
Philip Larkin:Poems (selected by Martin Amis)               #44             Faber             poetry
The Wife - how it works         various                               #45  Ladybird/Penguin     humour

[R]Voices from Stone and Bronze Caroline Davies          #46             Cinnamon         poetry
[R]Candide                                   Voltaire                           #47 Penguin            classics
[R]Some of us Glow more than Others/Tania Hershman #48       Unthank          short stories
The Travels of Lady Bulldog Burton Toksvig/Nightingale #49             Little,Brown     humour
On Writing                               Stephen King                   #50 Hodder              memoir
Lusitania                                   various                            #51  Pen and Sword military history
The Disappearance of Adele Bedeaux Graeme Macrae Burnet #52 Contraband      novel
{R}The Redemption of Galen Pike  Carys Davies            #53             Salt        short stories
The 39 steps                          John Buchan                    #54 Samuel French      novel spy
Diary of a Bad Year          J M Coetzee                            #55             Vintage         novel

Holy Wind in Navajo Philosophy  James Kale McNeley  #56     Uni of Arizona     philosophy
Strange Pilgrims   Gabriel Garcia Marquez                     #57           Penguin       short stories
[R]Somme unseen panoramas Barton/Banning #58 Constable/IWM      history/military
Night Sky with Exit Wounds   Ocean Vuong                 #59               Cape                  poetry
Do no Harm                         Henry Marsh                   #60             W&N       non fic medical

On the trail of the poets of WW1:E Blunden McPhail/Guest  #61     Pen&sword biog/history/military
The Magic Toy Shop                 Angela Carter           #62 Virago                  novel
Elizabeth is Missing                  Emma Healey           #63             Penguin           novel

101 things with  mexican sprayer  Heinz Deppe         #64                   ?                  humour
The Seasons of Cullen Church/Bernard O'Donoghue  #65              Faber               poetry
Narcissistic Lovers  Cynthia Zane/Kevin Dibble          #66             New Horizon   non fic
The Wars                       Timothy Findley                     #67           Penguin           fiction
Very selected                        Mimi Khalvati                  #68     Smith Doorstop             poetry
{R}The Spire                          William Golding            #69           Faber and Faber     novel
The Soul of Kindness    Elizabeth Taylor                    #70            Chatto                    novel
Into the Wild                   Jon Krakauer                        #71         Pan/MacMillan     non-fiction
Once an Artist Always an Artist Capt C J Bloomfield #72  Self pub (1921) memoir/milit hist

The Parrot the Horse and the man   Amarjit Chandan #73               Arc                    poetry
An Anthology of Mine Rex Whistler #74 Hamish Hamilton poetry/paint'gs
Photographing the Fallen Jeremy Gordon-Smith #75 Pen & Sword military history

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