It’s Christmas Eve, and I think that I can safely say that I’m on my final read of 2015. I have achieved my goal of reading a better mix of books by men and women and by reading outside my comfort zone, but my taste remains the same: books that explore the wonder and the curse of being human.
I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights. If you click on the links (reviews, plus a few interviews), you will notice an unashamed bias towards 4 and 5 stars reviews. This is because my policy is to only review books that I want to become a genuine cheerleader for. If I think that a book deserves a 3 (which, in my case, would mean that I thought it was good but that it just wasn’t for me), I don’t review it. I also admit to not reviewing every book that I think deserves 4 or 5 stars. Sometimes because there is nothing that I can usefully add to what has already been said. Sometimes because I find it impossible to put into words what a book means to me.
I adore a big biography. Those I select are normally connected to my current work in progress, so the list below may give you an insight into the subject-matter of what will become my next release.
Vivienne Westwood, Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly
The Life of Kenneth Tynan, Kathleen Tynan
Edith Sitwell, Avant Guard Poet, English Genius, Richard Greene
Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted, Andrew Wilson
Teaser: You can find more clues over on Pinterest.
Books so good I read them twice
This category is a little unfair (and not just because I have cheated). Some books are complete. You close the final page and think ‘Ah! that was the perfect ending.’ But some endings are so clever that you think ‘I need to go back to the beginning to see how the author did that.’ And then there are novels that are non-linear. Events don’t happen in a strictly chronological order. You never actually finish the story because you remain within it. When done well, you don’t want to leave.
Station Eleven, Emily St John Mantel. I simply didn’t know how to follow it.
All of my own books (proofs for my new bookshop editions). Cheating, I know, but for six (long) weeks I read nothing but my own writing.
The Crossing, Andrew Miller. An example of a book I adored but didn’t review because, when I logged on to post something, I discovered that Roz Morris had already said everything I wanted to say. Here is the link to her review.
The Coincidence Authority, John Ironmonger (My new favourite author and a guest on the blog)
The Notable Brain of Maxamilian Ponder, John Ironmonger
Sail Upon The Land, Josa Young
The Chase, Lorna Ferguson
Blue Mercy, Orna Ross
We are all Completely Besides Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
The Children Act, Ian McEwan
A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler
May We Be Forgiven, A M Homes
Jack, A M Homes
Things We Have in Common, Tasha Kavanagh
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
The White Lady, Jessica Bell
Lucy Jim, Kingsley Amis
The Better of Two Men, JD Smith (currently reading)
Old friends – Books I re-read in 2015
I recently heard John Boyne speak. He named Cider House Rules by John Irving as one of only four books that have influenced his writing. My list would be longer, but Cider House Rules would most certainly feature on it.
Cider House Rules, John Irving
Cal, Bernard McLaverty
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (author) and Michael Henry Heim (translator).
The Hand that First Held Mine, Maggie O’Farrell
Clew, Lucy Furlong
Solace, Colleen Mills (I loved this so much I gave a cover quote for it.)
Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford, edited by Charlotte Mosley
Over to you!
I’d love to know which books you’ve enjoyed this year, or of any reading goals you’ve set yourself. Meanwhile, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and see you in 2016!