If there is one thing I enjoy as much as buying books for myself it is buying books for my children. A trip to a bookshop now includes a lengthy spell in the children’s section and I’m discovering a wide range of books along with them.
The way a great deal of books for boys seem to be pitched is in a series. So there is Beast Quest, which now runs into 40 plus books, and other delights such as Dinosaur Cove. I guess it was ever thus, thinking of Enid Blyton, but these days the covers are colourful and the experience of buying books is much more fun than it was when I was a kid.
It’s great to see the next generation grabbed by reading and so happy to spend time in a bookshop.
Having gone through the highlights of the year ahead provided by The Guardian and The Telegraph it looks like I might be spending my limited books budget in the following ways in the first few months of this year:
Pulse by Julian Barnes
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
The Book of books by Melvyn Bragg
The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
Also planning to get some non-fiction as well.
Reading at Christmas time is always a struggle. Firstly, I take annual leave so there is not the chance to read on a commute and secondly the children are around making calm reading very difficult.
The aim this December was a fairly simple one, to keep the momentum of previous months going, but nonetheless it proved to be a challenge as days went by without more than a couple of pages being turned. In the end it worked out well but the lesson for next year is to read quick and to read early.
books read in December:
The Interrogative Mood A Novel? by Padgett Powell
The Dead Beat by Cody James
The Small Hand by Susan Hill
Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer
The Passport by Herta Muller
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
1. The Islanders and A Fisher of Men by Yevgeny Zamyatin
2. 2017 by Olga Slavnikova
Well chuffed with the books that have been read this year. Will provide some more in-depth thoughts about them in a couple of days but here is the list of all those consumed this year. A great year’s reading.
1. The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin
2. The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones
3. All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills
4. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
5. Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
6. White Ravens by Owen Sheers
7. Rushing to Paradise by JG Ballard
8. Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant
9. The Story of Mr Sommer by Patrick Suskind
10. A Dreambook for Our Time by Tadeusz Konwicki
11. The Man Who Knew Everything by Tom Stacey
12. The Locked Room by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
13. The Belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome
14. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
15. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
16. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
17. Bel Ami Guy du Maupassant
18. All the Conspirators by Christopher Isherwood
19. The Professor + The Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa
20. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
21. Cop Killer by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
22. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
23. Solar by Ian McEwan
24. A Month in the Country by J.L Carr
25. The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill
26. How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel
27. Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard
28. Tofu Landing by Evan Maloney
29. The White Castle by Orhan Panuk
30. Untimely Death by Cyril Hare
31. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
32. Young Hitler by Claus Hant
33. Natasha by David Bezmozgis
34. The Elephant by Slawomir Mrozek
35. The Carpenter’s Pencil by Manuel Rivas
36. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
37. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
38. The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie
39. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell
40. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
41. Repeat it Today With Tears by Anne Peile
42. Sabra Zoo by Mischa Hiller
43. All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
44. Amulet by Roberto Bolano
45. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
46. Stones in a Landslide by Maria Barbal
47. A Preparation for Death by Greg Baxter
48. Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
49. The Last Will & Testament of Senhor Da Silva Araujo by Germano Almeida
50. Tintin and the Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy
51. Who is Mr Satoshi? by Jonathan Lee
52. The Opposite of Falling by Jennie Rooney
53. Light Boxes by Shane Jones
54. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
55. Prater Violet by Christopher Isherwood
56. Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic
57. The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig
58. Wessex Tales by Thomas Hardy
59. The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal by Jan Marsh
60. The Wine-Dark Sea by Leonardo Sciascia
61. The Courilof Affair by Irene Nemirovsky
62. From a View to a Death by Anthony Powell
63. Kings of the Water by Mark Behr
64. The Castle of Otranto by Horage Walpole
65. Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason
66. Vivian and I by Colin Bacon
67. First Love, Last Rites by Ian McEwan
68. C by Tom McCarthy
69. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
70. The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller
71. The Canal by Lee Rourke
72. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
73. Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
74. The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
75. Maigret and the millionaires by Georges Simenon
76. My Friend Maigret by Georges Simenon
77. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Horace McCoy
78. Men in Space by Tom McCarthy
79. The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
80. Who Killed Palomino Molero? by Mario Vargas Llosa
81. Circus Bulgaria by Deyan Enev
82. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
83. The Interrogative Mood A Novel? by Padgett Powell
84. The Dead Beat by Cody James
85. The Small Hand by Susan Hill
86. Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer
87. The Passport by Herta Muller
88. The Box of Delights by John Masefield
With the kids off school and myself on holiday there is no commute and a busy house at this time of year. That makes reading difficult.
there is always that moment, in a good book, where after reading about 10 or so pages you get into a rhythm and get taken up by the pace of the writing and you can get lost in a book.
At this time of year there are so many distractions that getting lost in the pace of the book becomes a real challenge and one that over the years i have accepted i will not overcome.
So as I slowly plod my way through my last read of the year, Box of Delights, it is without a sense of pressure knowing that 20 or so pages in an evening is all that can be achieved at this time of year.
It is with a heavy heart that I embark on the tenth and final book, The Terrorists, in the Martin Beck series of crime novels penned by the husband and wife team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.
Their books have provided great reading moments over the last couple of years and the world of the police set against a changing political and cultural landscape in Sweden in the 1960s and early 1970s has been fascinating.
Whenever you read a series of books there are always high and low points and the hope is that obviously they end on a high note. Along with Dance to the Music of Time these books have been one of the longest exercises in reading I’ve made over the last couple of years and I have enjoyed them immensely.
So it is with some regret that the final book is started but what a great discovery they were back that Sunday afternoon in an Oxfam shop when i stumbled over the first in the series. Back then no one I asked had heard of them but thanks to some great editions from Harper Perennial and the current vogue for Swedish crime writers they are at last getting the wider recognition they deserve.
As I head into the pages of The Terrorists hoping for one last magical moment from Sjowall and Wahloo.