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


  1. Well done you. That's almost a book a week. I don't think you should be too hard on yourself about not reading enough 'serious' literature. The Tom Wright, John Drane and Chris Sunderland books were all fairly challenging. It's funny but I only recognise a few of the titles. So you have been succesful in finding hidden gems.

  2. That's an interesting list! Well done for keeping it up. I read the Bella Pollen one recently and although it felt like "fluff" at the time I have found myself thinking about it since. Thanks for your supportive comments! Happy New Year!

  3. This is truly inspiring. Barbara Kingsolver will be presenting writers' workshops at the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico February 19-23. I just signed up. It looks like a rare opportunity to meet her. Are you going?

  4. Thanks for the comment and information, Brook. Sadly a 5000 mile trip for a booky weekend isn't within my financial plan for the year!!