Thursday, 31 December 2009

reading list 2009

For the first time ever I decided to record what I read this year. As part of my 50 before 60 manifesto I set myself the task of reading at least two books a month, with the additional challenge of making one in five of them something a bit harder – non-fiction or maybe a classic I’d never got round to before. The first part was fairly easy, but I’m not sure that I actually achieved the second part. Although I’m a fairly prolific reader, I’m basically lazy – preferring a story to an intellectual challenge.

It’s a fairly hotch potch list – some of which is almost embarrassing to publish! There’s a fair amount of crime fiction in there which I always turn to when I don’t know what else to go for. There’s at least one book in the list that I can no longer remember reading and a couple that were accidental re-reads, discovering partway through that I had been here before, but couldn’t really remember how it finished. I acquire my reading matter in several different ways – presents, occasionally buying new, sometimes buying second-hand from GreenMetropolis or charity shops, sometimes borrowing from the library. I belong to a reading group, so 8 or 10 books each year are read for discussion; I follow up recommendations from friends and reviews I’ve seen, but charity shop books can turn up some unexpected treasure (as well as a lot of trash). Kat Pomfret’s Paradise Jazz was one such jewel, read late in the year – I’d never heard of her, but found myself beguiled. Others that I enjoyed enough to recommend are highlighted below:

Barbara Kingsolver: Prodigal Summer
Muriel Barbery: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Penelope Lively: Consequences
Kate Atkinson: Case Histories
Anne Tyler: The Accidental Tourist
Melvyn Bragg: Credo
Anne Tyler: A Patchwork Planet
Tom Wright: Surprised by Hope
Stef Penney: The Tenderness of Wolves
Sebastian Barry: The Secret Scripture
Whitney Otto: How to make an American Quilt
Peter Robinson: Playing with Fire
Lillian Harry: Dance Little Lady
Iain Pears: An Instance of the Fingerpost
Barbara Vine: The Chimney Sweeper's Boy
Stieg Larssen: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Gail Godwin: Father Melancholy's Daughter
Dan Rhodes: Gold
Barbara Trapido:
Brother of the More Famous Jack
John Drane: Do Christians Know How to be Spiritual
Sophie Parkin: All grown up
Barbara Trapido: The Travelling Hornplayer
Jill Dawson: The Great Lover
Cecilia Aherne: Thanks for the Memories
D S & M Linn:
Sleeping with Bread
Libby Purves: Shadow Child
Bella Pollen: Chasing Unicorns
Joanne Harris: The Lollipop Shoes
Rob Bell: Velvet Elvis
Debra Adelaide: The Household Guide to Dying
Bella Pollen: Midnight Cactus
Michael Dibdin: The End Times
Guillermo Martinez: The Oxford Murders
Iain Pears: Giotto's Hand
Jamila Gavin: Coram Boy
Lauren Weisberger: The Devil Wears Prada
Sebastian Faulks: Engleby
Chris Sunderland: The Dream that inspired the Bible
John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany
Paulo Coelho: The Pilgrimage
Rosie Thomas: A Simple Life
Sarah Harrison: Heaven's on Hold
Kat Pomfret: Paradise Jazz
Ian Rankin (Jack Harvey): Bleeding Hearts