Jump to content
rllmuk
Sign in to follow this  
OogyBoogy

52 Weeks, 52 Books - 2016 Edition

Recommended Posts

  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)

Read this in two sittings. Very engaging throughout, and also desperately sad in places, for obvious reasons. I'll be picking up the second volume.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)

Again, very engaging and frequently shocking.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's how my year is going- 

 

JANUARY 

 

The Ritual - Adam Nevill 02/01/16

The Making of Return of the Jedi - JW Rinzler 19/01/16

The Watchers -Neil Spring 27/01/16

Adrian Mole : The Cappuccino Years -Sue Townsend 29/01/16

 

FEBRUARY 

 

Which Lie Did I Tell? - William Goldman 01/02/16

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - Sue Townsend 04/02/16

Jizzle - John Wyndham 21/02/16

 

MARCH  

 

The Making of Zombie Wars : A Novel - Aleksander Hemon 06/03/16

Girl In A Band - Kim Gordon 12/03/16

Season of the Witch : How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll - Peter Bebergal 13/03/16

Seconds of Pleasure - Neil LaBute 18/03/16

I went on a slight nostalgia trip to Sue Townsend's stuff- I had never read the Cappuccino Years and reading made me want to go check out the first one again- odd how much of it had stuck with me over the years, whole phrases and sentences. Also a lot of jokes I didn't quite get when I read it as a kid. And normally I wouldn't read a book on the making of a Star Wars film but someone had given it to me- it's a beast that goes into way too much discussion of budgets and special effects, but at least the early chapters dealing with the development and changes in the script were fascinating. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I departed from my usual sci if diet for a while and I'm using good reads to track as a reminder to read more. Don't know if il make 52 as I don't want to restrict myself to short reads. Currently reading the Old Testament as well, just out of atheist curiosity - it's bloody mental. And It will delay my target unless I count the books within as separate entities, but that feels like cheating. I'm really enjoying the domino effect of ebooks, reading one thing and being inspired to download something related. 

 

January: 

1. My lady nicotine, J M Barrie

2. The Opium Habit, Horace B Day

3. Schismatrix, Bruce Sterling (thanks Zok!) 

 

February  

4. Just Kids, Patti Smith 

5. Strange Fascination: David Bowie, David Buckley 

6. Scars of Sweet Paradise: The life and times of Janis Joplin 

 

March 

7. Aspergers: Looking in from the outside 

8. Tressa: The twelve year old mum (I try to avoid the 'misery books genre generally as it can feel exploitative, but I do find it helps me reflect on my day job) 

9. Yellow Crocus Laila Ibrahim 

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forum won't let me update my original post so reposting, sorry. 

 

Hello! I'm just going to track my books here. I doubt I'll get anywhere near 52, though I'll try for 25.

 

1. The Elements of Typographic Style – Robert Bringhurst

2. The Laws of Simplicity – John Maeda

3. What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art In the Blink of an Eye – Will Gompertz

4. Just My Type: A book about fonts – Simon Garfield

For a book about typefaces and typography, it's close to illegible in places with horrible typesetting.

5. The Etymologicon – Mark Forsyth

6. Page 1: Great Expectations, Seventy graphic solutions 

7. Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd

8. Neuromancer – William Gibson

9. Money – Martin Amis

10. Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk

11. Puckoon – Spike Milligan. Funny, bizarre and, unfortunately, a tiny bit old-school racist.

12. The Woman Who Died A Lot – Jasper Fforde

13. The Hell of it All – Charlie Brooker

14. The Incorruptibles – John Hornor Jacobs

15. So Good They Can't Ignore You – Cal Newport. Trying to get my working life in order, this helped a bit.

16. God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens. Probably the best book I've read in years.

17. Mastering Layout – Mike Stevens

18. The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks

 

Bonus reads:

1. Deadpool Killustrated 

2. Judge Dredd: America – John Wagner

3. Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire - Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener

I just adore this series and think you should all read the FCBD editions at the very least. 

4. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

5. Captain America & The Korvac Saga (This was rubbish)

6. Thor (2014, #1-6)

7. Ghost Racers (2015, #1-4)

8. Secret Invasion (#1-8)

9. Dark Reign (#1-12)

10. 1602: Witch Hunter Angela (#1-4). Magnificent.

11. Deadpool Pulp (#1-4)

12. 1872 (#1-4)

13. Avengers Vs X-Men (#1-12)

14. New Avengers: Sentry (#7-10)

15. Psylocke (#1-4)

16. Daredevil: Black and White (One shot)

17. Daredevil (2011, #1-6)

18. Doctor Strange (2014, #1-5). Marvel Unlimited has gypped me out of the final issue. :|

19. Doctor Strange Season One (2011)

 

Currently reading:

Spider-Man Season One (2011)

 

 

Queued:

Consider Phlebas – Iain M. Banks

 

Abandoned:

Ayoade on Ayoade – Richard Ayoade. It was just too fucking weird and not very funny.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The year to date

Spoiler

 

January


The Awakening - Kate Chopin (ebook)
The Owl Service - Alan Garner (real book)
The Guest Cat - Takashi Hiraide (ebook)
The Death of Grass - John Christopher (real book)
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks - Christopher Brookmyre (audiobook)
Snake - Mary Woronov (real book)
The Innocence of Father Brown - G K Chesterton (ebook)
Pedro Páramo - Juan Rulfo (real book)

 

February


Suspiria - Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (real book) - A film studies type book about Argento's horror masterpiece.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke (real book) - Short stories that read like expanded footnotes from Strange/Norrell.
Skeleton Crew - Stephen King (audiobook) - Short stories that read like they were written by a guy who needed to keep churning out stories to pay the rent. Some good ones (like The Mist) and some not so good.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling (audiobook) - A long story that does a decent job of hiding the fact that it doesn't do much besides set up the last book.

 

 

 

 

March update

 

The Damnation Game - Clive Barker (audiobook) - Some nice gruesome bits but he builds up this kind of mythological underworld of powerful beings and then pisses it up the wall with a terrible bit of exposition that robs the main villain of much of his mystique.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce (audiobook) - Shamelessly manipulative feelgood story of an old man rediscovering himself by walking like 500 miles in his slippers. Getting Jim Broadbent to narrate was a masterstroke.
Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds (audiobook) - Dan Brown in space - a scavenger hunt plot that exists solely to justify a travelogue of Reynolds' (admittedly vividly imagined) near future dystopian utopia. 
Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (audiobook) - The reading of the book of the talk. She's at her best when she's just describing her mental life and family. The California psychobabble I can take or leave.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (real book) - The Royal Tenenbaums meets Magnolia. An immense undertaking but well worth it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder whether you really need to read that twenty page footnote.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My March 

 

Spoiler

Justina Robson - Glorious Angels 5* Excellent complex SciFi . Recommended.

Ernst Haffner - Blood Brothers 4* Slim German novel banned by Hitler depicting lives of street gangs in the early 1930s

James Rebanks - The Shepherds Life  3*  Tups ’n Yaws galore.

Christopher Bollen - Orient 3* OKish novel but doesnt work as a who-done-it given the sheer number of folk bumped off.

Steve Silberman - Neurotribes 4* Very interesting.

Timothy Snyder - Black Earth 4*  The author argues that the total breakdown of state structures in areas of double occupation (Poland and W USSR), combined with the recruitment of locals by playing the JudeoBolshevik conspiracy card for all it was worth, enabled the Holocaust (compared to experiences in such territories as Denmark or Italy).  Certainly moves the debate away from equating Nazi philosophy with crude nationalism or racism.

Jane Smiley - Early warning 4* part two of the family saga with a chapter a year, gentle reading.

Sunjeev Sahota - 3* The Year of the Runaways - Booker shortlisted, but really needs a glossary of Panjabi terms.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)

A quote on the back of this says 'Like Games of Thrones, but real', which is what attracted me to it in the first place, but after reading the book I found that this comparison isn't really very accurate. It's told in the first person, for a start, from one character's perspective, and is more about one man's journey than lots of different character arcs weaving together, like in GoT. Still, it's an interesting story and reads easily. It's set in the tenth century, when England was divided up into a series of disunited kingdoms, and tells the tale of one Lord, Uthred, battling the Danish invaders while the 'kings' dither and delay in their fortified towns. The author provides maps of medieval Britain and translations for the town names, which are all written in Old English, and it's interesting to track the protagonist's progress across the landscape, which is something that I always found satisfying in GoT, too. This is the first Cornwell book I've read, despite having come across his name quite often, so I'll be keeping an eye out for some more of his stuff after reading this. Recommended if you're interested in this period of history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/04/2016 at 9:09 PM, Exidor said:

Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds(audiobook) - Dan Brown in space.

Aw, bit harsh! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Dan Brown maybe.

 

Spoiler

I love the setting of the book and it's fizzing with amazing ideas but it feels like he couldn't be arsed writing a story or characters to go with it. It's a problem I have with a lot of hard sci fi. The scavenger hunt is the big mysterious thing that's driving us round the solar system and then he just gives up on it. Sunday's following the trails and puts the magic helmet on and has to answer a load of questions about all the clues she's followed in order to gain access to one of the many Eunices. Meanwhile, Geoffrey goes to the Winter Palace to spite Hector and Lucas and ends up stumbling on the big prize by accident and copping a free ticket to the end of the universe on the basis of a blood test. And so much coincidence and luck all the way through. Bleh. 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)

Despite finding it very readable and the fact that I got through its near-600 pages fairly quickly, The Book Thief left me feeling a little cold and I thought that it in no way lived up to the hype that surrounded it when it was first released. I don't think it's written very well either: lots of overwrought, 'look-at-me' figurative language and gimmicky passages that were really quite jarring and served only to remind me that I was reading a book, not getting lost in an imagined world. Also, I appreciate it's probably classed as YA fiction and I'm not really the target audience, because I'm older and well ard, but I found a lot of the bits that were trying so hard to make you cry just really superficial and mawkish and irritating more than anything else.

 

I got The Killing Joke yesterday for my birthday and read it in about half an hour this morning. I'm trying to get into graphic novels a bit more and kept on reading about this one so put it on my birthday list, but I had no idea it was so short, certainly compared with The Dark Knight Returns, or even Year One. It felt like it ended just as it was getting going, and although the artwork and the colouring are lovely, I'm left wondering what's supposed to be so amazingly special about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)

I read this in two sittings and thought it was great: darkly funny, sad and genuinely touching. Recommended.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)

I really liked this and read it over the course of about 90 minutes.  It's Star Wars for grown ups with some fantastic art. I want to get the next volume but it's currently a tenner, which seems a bit steep considering how quickly you can get through them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, April.......

 

Spoiler

April (9)

Paul Theroux - Deep South 3* Yankee travels around encountering poverty and echoes of the past, stays in successive Patel’s Motels, visits churches and gun meets, ponders why Clinton, son of Arkansas, chooses not to use his Foundation cash to aid the area.  Best consumed in small doses.

Jonathan Coe - What a carve up! 4* Complexly structured, savagely satirical novel from 1994, mashed up with Brit films and even Agatha Christie pastiche.

Peter Moore - The Weather Experiment 5* Brilliantly readable account of early days of weather investigation and recording, includes amazing account of 7 mile high balloon journey and the sad end of FitzRoy.  Recommended. NF pick of the month

Andrew Michael Hurley - The Loney 4* Atmospheric, almost Blair Witch like novel, key events remaining elusively out of focus, environment and religious orthodoxy prevailing.  Back cover blurb is misleading.

Sara Molinar - The Whispering City 2* Unremarkable Spanish FIT

Eugene Rogan - The fall of the Ottomans 3*  Workmanlike run through events in the Middle East during WW1.

Jonathan Coe - Number 11 2* Follow up of sorts to What a carve up!, very patchy.

Smith Henderson - Fourth of July Creek 5* Following @Silent Runner comments, finally picked this up - slam-dunk slice of gripping and emotional Americana which will long remain in the mind, not least for the crippling impact on children of belief systems (c.f. the Loney)  F pick of the month

Edith Hall - The ancient Greeks, 10 ways they shaped the modern world .  4* very good review of their achievements - yep, it sure must have been fun to be a free male Greek in those days.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The year to date

Spoiler

January

The Awakening - Kate Chopin (ebook)
The Owl Service - Alan Garner (real book)
The Guest Cat - Takashi Hiraide (ebook)
The Death of Grass - John Christopher (real book)
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks - Christopher Brookmyre (audiobook)
Snake - Mary Woronov (real book)
The Innocence of Father Brown - G K Chesterton (ebook)
Pedro Páramo - Juan Rulfo (real book)

 

February

Suspiria - Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (real book) - A film studies type book about Argento's horror masterpiece.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke (real book) - Short stories that read like expanded footnotes from Strange/Norrell.
Skeleton Crew - Stephen King (audiobook) - Short stories that read like they were written by a guy who needed to keep churning out stories to pay the rent. Some good ones (like The Mist) and some not so good.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling (audiobook) - A long story that does a decent job of hiding the fact that it doesn't do much besides set up the last book.

 

March

The Damnation Game - Clive Barker (audiobook) - Some nice gruesome bits but he builds up this kind of mythological underworld of powerful beings and then pisses it up the wall with a terrible bit of exposition that robs the main villain of much of his mystique.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce (audiobook) - Shamelessly manipulative feelgood story of an old man rediscovering himself by walking like 500 miles in his slippers. Getting Jim Broadbent to narrate was a masterstroke.
Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds (audiobook) - Dan Brown in space - a scavenger hunt plot that exists solely to justify a travelogue of Reynolds' (admittedly vividly imagined) near future dystopian utopia.
Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (audiobook) - The reading of the book of the talk. She's at her best when she's just describing her mental life and family. The California psychobabble I can take or leave.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (real book) - The Royal Tenenbaums meets Magnolia. An immense undertaking but well worth it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder whether you really need to read that twenty page footnote.



April

The Fixed Period - Anthony Trollope (ebook) - A dystopian satire that's fun while it's introducing its narrator and going over the basic concepts but then  outstays its welcome even as a novella by repeating the same thing over and over.
Lives of the Monster Dogs - Kirsten Bakis (real book) - Talking bipedal dogs dressed in 19th century Prussian uniform arrive in modern day New York, refugees from a Dr Moreau style experimental project. I really wish the book had lived up to the concept.
Anno Dracula - Kim Newman (ebook) - The constant appearance of famous characters both real and fictional took a bit of getting used to. Newman doesn't do it with quite the finesse that Alan Moore did in LXG and it can be a bit wearing when yet another name crashes through your suspension of disbelief for no reason other than to show that he knows his Victoriana. Behind all that though there's a decent detective story with a couple of engaging (non-famous) leads.
The Sot-Weed Factor - John Barth (audiobook) - Ebenezer Cooke was a real life minor poet in the late 17th century who wrote a satirical poem about how shit life was in the American colony. Barth imagines what misadventures might have befallen him in order to make him so bitter. Kind of like Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy but about olden times and a lot more bawdy. The best book I've read/heard this year.
The Daylight Gate - Jeanette Winterson (real book) - A reimagining of the story of the Pendle witches. It gets into the political expediency of the witch trials and their relationship with the routing of catholics. Then for reasons I can't quite fathom, it also ascribes actual witchy powers to the accused, which is kind of offensive and undermines the whole thing about them being innocent victims of patriarchal power.
Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies - Nick Frost (audiobook) - Frost's an engaging narrator and there are some interesting insights into his upbringing but the thing stops at the end of the first series of Spaced, which left me feeling a bit short changed.
The Girl with All the Gifts - M R Carey (audiobook) - A zombie apocalypse story that starts off on a high with a nicely done Never Let Me Go vibe and consequently feels a bit disappointing when it switches gears into trad survival road trip mode. It's still decent enough but suffers from that early promise of something a bit different.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)

 

I enjoyed this. From the small number of superhero graphic novels I've read, including Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, I liked this the most. I think the story in the first volume is more intriguing than the second, but Kevin O'Neill's artwork in both is fantastic. Recommended if you like superhero stuff but want something a bit closer to the knuckle.

Spoiler

 

  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The year to date

 

  Hide contents

January

The Awakening - Kate Chopin (ebook)
The Owl Service - Alan Garner (real book)
The Guest Cat - Takashi Hiraide (ebook)
The Death of Grass - John Christopher (real book)
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks - Christopher Brookmyre (audiobook)
Snake - Mary Woronov (real book)
The Innocence of Father Brown - G K Chesterton (ebook)
Pedro Páramo - Juan Rulfo (real book)

 

February

Suspiria - Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (real book) - A film studies type book about Argento's horror masterpiece.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke (real book) - Short stories that read like expanded footnotes from Strange/Norrell.
Skeleton Crew - Stephen King (audiobook) - Short stories that read like they were written by a guy who needed to keep churning out stories to pay the rent. Some good ones (like The Mist) and some not so good.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling (audiobook) - A long story that does a decent job of hiding the fact that it doesn't do much besides set up the last book.

 

March

The Damnation Game - Clive Barker (audiobook) - Some nice gruesome bits but he builds up this kind of mythological underworld of powerful beings and then pisses it up the wall with a terrible bit of exposition that robs the main villain of much of his mystique.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce (audiobook) - Shamelessly manipulative feelgood story of an old man rediscovering himself by walking like 500 miles in his slippers. Getting Jim Broadbent to narrate was a masterstroke.
Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds (audiobook) - Dan Brown in space - a scavenger hunt plot that exists solely to justify a travelogue of Reynolds' (admittedly vividly imagined) near future dystopian utopia.
Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (audiobook) - The reading of the book of the talk. She's at her best when she's just describing her mental life and family. The California psychobabble I can take or leave.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (real book) - The Royal Tenenbaums meets Magnolia. An immense undertaking but well worth it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder whether you really need to read that twenty page footnote.

 

April

The Fixed Period - Anthony Trollope (ebook) - A dystopian satire that's fun while it's introducing its narrator and going over the basic concepts but then  outstays its welcome even as a novella by repeating the same thing over and over.
Lives of the Monster Dogs - Kirsten Bakis (real book) - Talking bipedal dogs dressed in 19th century Prussian uniform arrive in modern day New York, refugees from a Dr Moreau style experimental project. I really wish the book had lived up to the concept.
Anno Dracula - Kim Newman (ebook) - The constant appearance of famous characters both real and fictional took a bit of getting used to. Newman doesn't do it with quite the finesse that Alan Moore did in LXG and it can be a bit wearing when yet another name crashes through your suspension of disbelief for no reason other than to show that he knows his Victoriana. Behind all that though there's a decent detective story with a couple of engaging (non-famous) leads.
The Sot-Weed Factor - John Barth (audiobook) - Ebenezer Cooke was a real life minor poet in the late 17th century who wrote a satirical poem about how shit life was in the American colony. Barth imagines what misadventures might have befallen him in order to make him so bitter. Kind of like Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy but about olden times and a lot more bawdy. The best book I've read/heard this year.
The Daylight Gate - Jeanette Winterson (real book) - A reimagining of the story of the Pendle witches. It gets into the political expediency of the witch trials and their relationship with the routing of catholics. Then for reasons I can't quite fathom, it also ascribes actual witchy powers to the accused, which is kind of offensive and undermines the whole thing about them being innocent victims of patriarchal power.
Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies - Nick Frost (audiobook) - Frost's an engaging narrator and there are some interesting insights into his upbringing but the thing stops at the end of the first series of Spaced, which left me feeling a bit short changed.
The Girl with All the Gifts - M R Carey (audiobook) - A zombie apocalypse story that starts off on a high with a nicely done Never Let Me Go vibe and consequently feels a bit disappointing when it switches gears into trad survival road trip mode. It's still decent enough but suffers from that early promise of something a bit different.


May

Iron Council - China Mieville (audiobook) - Disappointing end to his Bas Lag sequence. He's best when he concentrates on the little people who exist within the seething mass of his big cities. Here it's all about big events and everybody feels like cardboard cut outs. Also terrible audiobook narration that made the whole thing a chore.

The Ballad of Peckham Rye - Muriel Spark (real book) - A bastard who may or may not be in some way demonic shakes up the quiet lives of a bunch of people in 60s London. 

The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker (audiobook) - Two magical creatures find themselves adrift in turn of the century Manhattan. It's a bit Strange and Norrell and there's a story in there about a dangerous nutjob who discovers them but it's mostly about loneliness and friendship and the immigrant experience. An unexpected treat.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers (ebook) - An absolute stinker. 

The Maker of Swans - Paraic O'Donnell (audiobook) - Beautifully written weird Gaiman-style fantasy about people with mysterious powers living in an old mansion fucking things up. I don't think I ever knew exactly what was going on but it didn't seem to matter.

The Magic Toyshop - Angela Carter (real book) - Excellent story from the author of The Company of Wolves. It's like a dark, menacing version of one of those 70s kids' dramas that the BBC used to do, with added sexual awakening. 

The Tent - Margaret Atwood (real book) - A collection of super short short stories and poems and whatnot. There are some good ones but the stories are often more like fragments and it all seemed a bit insubstantial. 

 

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to see Angela Carter mentioned.

 

My May

 

Spoiler

Murakami - Wind Pinball 4* These two earliest novellas reveal Murakami to be in total command of his unique style from the outset.

James Hamilton Paterson - Marked for death 5* Highly recommended account of flying activities during WW 1. Non-fiction pick of the month.

William Boyd - Sweet Caress 3*  Need to stop buying this sort of thing.

Naomi Novik - Uprooted 4* Decent slice of classic fantasy based on Polish folk tales.

Ted Kosmatka - The flicker men 3* techno / SF thriller riffing around concepts such as the need for the presence of an observer to collapse a wavefront, multiple universes etc.  Not sure it really works.

Neil MacGregor - Germany, memories of a nation 4* Recommended.  Interesting book containing many photos and illustrations of works of architecture, art, everyday objects etc which are used by the author to illustrate aspects of Germany history, identity and culture.

Brian Cathcart - the news from Waterloo 3* Dashing tale

Adam Roberts - 20 million leagues under the sea 3* The author loves a pun.  Probably need to be familiar with the original title to get the most out of this.

Franz Kafka - Metamorphosis 5* Nice new Penguin Pocket edition of title story and other classics such as A report to an Academy and In the Penal colony.  Fiction pick of the month

 

 

In general books news, from my perspective at least, it's good that the Economist reports fiction in translation to be strongly outperforming the general sales trends. Also, the new Penguin Pockets are cheap and no-frills editions but cleanly and pleasingly designed, other than perhaps having the page numbers midway down on the outside of each page which is distracting.  I was meaning to return to Kafka and it provided a perfect excuse to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Spoiler
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)

 

15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)

 

I enjoyed this to an extent, but, like The Book Thief, I thought it was one of those novels that everyone went on about but which couldn't live up to it's own hype.

 

16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)

 

J.K. Rowling's second crime novel novel writing as Galbraith, like the first, which I read last year, is another tightly-written page turner that I'd recommend to anyone. Although not quite as good as the first novel, I'll definitely be picking up the third in the series, which came out recently, for my summer holiday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)
  15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)
  16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)

17. Saga: Volume 2, Brian Vaughan (4/6)

Read this in an afternoon. Really good - more sexy, violent Star Wars. At about a tenner a volume, however, it's not exactly something I can binge on.
 

18. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/6)

 

It must be about the sixth time I've read this.Teaching it next term, which I'm looking forward to. Such a perfect novel. One of my favourites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6 April 2016 at 9:18 AM, Jamie John said:
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)

A quote on the back of this says 'Like Games of Thrones, but real', which is what attracted me to it in the first place, but after reading the book I found that this comparison isn't really very accurate. It's told in the first person, for a start, from one character's perspective, and is more about one man's journey than lots of different character arcs weaving together, like in GoT. Still, it's an interesting story and reads easily. It's set in the tenth century, when England was divided up into a series of disunited kingdoms, and tells the tale of one Lord, Uthred, battling the Danish invaders while the 'kings' dither and delay in their fortified towns. The author provides maps of medieval Britain and translations for the town names, which are all written in Old English, and it's interesting to track the protagonist's progress across the landscape, which is something that I always found satisfying in GoT, too. This is the first Cornwell book I've read, despite having come across his name quite often, so I'll be keeping an eye out for some more of his stuff after reading this. Recommended if you're interested in this period of history.

 

A bit of a delayed response, but if you weren't already aware The Pagan Lord is quite late on in the series all focused on the main character. 

 

I recently read the lot (think there are 8 or 9 in the series) and really enjoyed them. They're a little bit repetitive, but I learnt some stuff about a period of English history I knew little about. If you liked this, I'd recommend picking up the earlier books in the series too. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)
  15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)
  16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)
  17. Saga: Volume 2, Brian Vaughan (4/6)
  18. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/6)
  19. Saturday, Ian McEwan (17/6)

Like a lot of McEwan's stuff, this takes pages and pages to get anywhere, but the writing is often so wonderful you forgive him for it. On the surface, it's a story about a neurosurgeon who has a run in with a drug dealer. Beneath that, however, McEwan offers insightful and interesting ruminations on a number of different subjects, from the complexities of the human brain to the Iraq War to the concious self-deprecation of the socially and economically privileged. Recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)
  15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)
  16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)
  17. Saga: Volume 2, Brian Vaughan (4/6)
  18. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/6)
  19. Saturday, Ian McEwan (17/6)
  20. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

Great story told from the perspective of an ethically dubious driver-cum-entrepreneur in modern day Dehli who kills his employer. Suceeds in making India sound god awful. Won the Booker in 2008 but I've only just got round to reading it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

June - nothing really outstanding to recommend but a solid month.  Booze, sport, politics and games have reduced reading time of late.

 

Spoiler

June (5)

Luiz Eduardo Soares - Rio De Janeiro Extreme City 4* Uneven, but a real eye opener in places.

Walter Tevis - The man who fell to earth 4* sad science fiction

Peter Hennessy & James Jinks - The Silent Deep 4* fascinating account of submarine ops since WW2 including the sinking of the Belgrano

Jane Smiley - Golden age 4* conclusion to 100 year family opus 

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore - Somme: into the breach 4* largely comprising first hand accounts of the experience, a cumulatively distressing read

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)
  15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)
  16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)
  17. Saga: Volume 2, Brian Vaughan (4/6)
  18. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/6)
  19. Saturday, Ian McEwan (17/6)
  20. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga (3/7)

21. New Europe, Michael Palin (22/7)

22. Stalin and Khrushchev: The USSR 1924-1964, Michael Lynch (25/7)

 

Took a break from fiction for a while. New Europe is the tie in to the TV series that Palin did nearly a decade ago now, travelling across central and eastern Europe. It's the second of his travel books that I've read, but I enjoyed this more than Pole to Pole. It's interesting and laugh out loud in places. Topically and somewhat sadly, however, Palin interviews lots of people from, at the time, non-EU countries talking about how desperately they want to be part of the Union. He concludes by writing about his hopes for a Europe typified by cooperation and open borders, not by conflict, in the 21st century, which I found especially poignant given developments over the last month.

 

The Stalin book is a slim volume that I picked up in my school library before the holiday. It's the same one I used when I did my A Levels and I've been interested in 20th century Russian history ever since, so I decided to have another skim through. It's very much an introduction to the period, which is obviously extremely complex, but I found it interesting nonetheless and will try to pick up some more stuff about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

July featured Sicily:

 

Spoiler

Iain Pears - Arcadia 4* very sly and intriguing fantasy / SF romp from this non-genre writer.  (I read the book as published, apparently you can also change the chapter order around via an App).

John Julius Norwich - Sicily - 4* a succinct and well illustrated history of the island by a  long-term fan

Mario Giordano - Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian lions - 4* enjoyable Scilian crime romp from this German author, first in series

Leonardo Sciascia - The day of the owl / Equal danger 5* two classic Scilian novellas, the former a realistic depiction of omertà, the later allegorical, something more akin to Auster’s new York Trilogy (neither are conventional crime novels though, as some Amazon reviewers seem to have been expecting). Joint fiction pick of the month.

Dolores Redondo - The invisible guardian 5* excellent Spanish crime novel based in dark and claustrophobic Navarre, slight fantastical elements also..  Joint fiction pick of the month

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just realised I forgot to do a June update.

 

June
SPQR: A History of Modern Rome - Mary Beard
(audiobook) - Does what it says on the tin. 
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson (real book) - The good thing about reading a ton of books is that I'm discovering some new favourite authors. Shirley Jackson is one of them. This was great.
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (audiobook) - Growing up depressed in '50s America. It's not an easy read and I'm not in a rush to read it again but it's very well written and, unsurprisingly, paints a very vivid picture of what it's like to try to cope with depression.
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (audiobook) - If there's one thing Ishiguro does well, it's unreliable narrators. 

 

July
The Humans - Matt Haig
(audiobook) - Pound shop Douglas Adams with a gooey centre. Maybe this isn't a good year to be reading about how humans are special snowflakes that the rest of the universe could learn a thing or two from.
The River - Rumer Godden (real book) - Semi-autobiographical coming of age thing set in colonial India. Conjures a great sense of the place and time.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling (audiobook) - A decent conclusion after a couple of books that seemed to be mostly treading water while she got all her chess pieces in place.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (audiobook) - For years I'd assumed that this was grim dystopia in the same vein as 1984. It's not. It's black comedy dystopia. Dated in some ways but incredibly prescient in others.

 

And a couple of DNFs
Monkey: The Journey to the West - Wu Cheng'en (audiobook) - Pretty hard going for a commute listen and I had to give up because it was putting me to sleep. Nicely read by Kenneth Williams but it didn't seem much more than a sequence of Monkey going to places and doing things. Didn't get as far as meeting up with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy though so maybe it picks up later.
In the Darkness, That's Where I'll Know You - Luke Smitherd (audiobook) - An Inbetweeners reject finds himself trapped in a high concept story of parallel universes or something. I don't know. That makes it sound more fun than it is. It was so ploddingly written that I gave up about a third of the way in.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Post-holiday update!

 

23. Saga: Volume 3, Brian Vaughan (16/8) - Like the second volume, I read this in an hour. It was good, although not as exciting as the first two. I'm not sure whether I'll pick up the others. The cost to reading time ratio isn't very high.

 

24. Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson (16/8) - Thriller about a woman with amnesia who awakes every morning with no memory of the previous 30 years. Tightly-written and a real page turner, but you have to suspend your disbelief with it a little bit as it's all very far-fetched. I sort of guessed the ending as well. Still, good summer reading.

 

25. The End of the World Running Club, Adrian J Walker (16/8) - This was surprisingly good. Post-apocalyptic novel about a man who has to run from one end of the UK to the other to reunite with his family after the world is laid to waste by meteorites, learning about how to be a better man and less of a slob along the way. It's quite funny in a horror comedy, Shaun of the Dead kind of way, and strangely inspires you to take up running.

 

26. Mr Mercedes, Stephen King (16/8) -  King does crime fiction. A good page turner and suitably cliff hangery, although his constant pop culture references are a bit jarring, especially when he's referring to things he himself has written, or films of his books, which he does a lot.

 

27. The Revenant, Michael Punke (16/8) - This was really good and surprisingly different to the film in lots of ways. A great tale of survival against the odds.

 

28. Child 44, Tom Rob Smith (16/8) - More crime fiction, this time set in 1950s Stalinist Russia about a secret police agent with a conscience who has to investigate a string of gruesome child murders in a country where, officially, murder doesn't happen. Another tightly-written page-turner, although I found the depictions of Russia at the time more interesting than the plot.

 

As well as those, I abandoned Dune by Frank Herbert after about 100 pages. It was just boring, and you had to keep referring to the glossary at the back to figure out what the hell he was writing about, which I couldn't be done with. I also got about 300 pages into Consider Phlebas, by Iain M Banks, before putting it down. He has a habit of over-describing what he's attempting the reader to visualise, which results in you having to reread passages several times to try and picture what's happening.

 

Full list:

 

Spoiler


  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (17/1)
  2. Dracula, Bram Stoker (2/2)
  3. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill (5/2)
  4. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov (13/2)
  5. The Walking Dead: Compendium 2, Robert Kirkman et al (17/2)
  6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (7/3)
  7. Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (8/3)
  8. Maus (Volume II), Art Spiegelman (16/3)
  9. The Pagan Lord, Bernard Cornwell (6/4)
  10. The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak (22/4)
  11. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (24/4)
  12. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes (25/4)
  13. Saga: Volume 1, Brian Vaughan (27/4)
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus, Alan Moore (7/5)
  15. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (24/5)
  16. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (2/6)
  17. Saga: Volume 2, Brian Vaughan (4/6)
  18. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/6)
  19. Saturday, Ian McEwan (17/6)
  20. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga (3/7)
  21. New Europe, Michael Palin (22/7)
  22. Stalin and Khrushchev: The USSR 1924-1964, Michael Lynch (25/7)
  23. Saga: Volume 3, Brian Vaughan (16/8)
  24. Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson (16/8)
  25. The End of the World Running Club, Adrian J Walker (16/8)
  26. Mr Mercedes, Stephen King (16/8)
  27. The Revenant, Michael Punke (16/8)
  28. Child 44, Tom Rob Smith (16/8)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.