Jump to content
rllmuk
Jamie John

What books did you read in 2020?

Recommended Posts

Last year's thread seemed to go down quite well, so I thought I'd make one for for the new year.

 

Quote

Once you've read a book, post it in here along with your thoughts and hopefully this will be a way of generating some intellectually-stimulating literary discussion and allowing others to pick up some reading recommendations. Each time you read a new book, post the list of the books you've read so far this year in spoiler tags to keep things tidy. If you still want to set yourself a reading challenge number, like in previous years, then of course that's fine too (if you use the Goodreads app then it can keep track of your progress for you, which is what I'll be doing).

 

I had a pretty crap year for reading in 2019, only managing 17 books. I'm hoping to get back on it this year and have set myself a target of 30 books by 2021, with a resolution to spend more time reading than I do mindlessly browsing through my phone. With the Kindle app, there's no excuse. Currently, I'm mid-way through Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, which I'm finding as readable as his other stuff, if a little schematic.

 

What books have you read this year, rllmuk?

  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My target for last year was 40 and I managed 38 books, with a whole load of partly read books giving me the ideal opportunity to convert them into early reads. 40 is again the target. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My reading fell off a cliff last year, hoping to do better in 2020. I’m currently about a 1/5 of the way through Anna Karenina and I’m doing a Les Misérables read through on Reddit which is literally paced out to last a year. It will be my first time reading the book and the first time doing a book club style read through so I’m feeling quite excited about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I managed 25 books last year so I’m aiming for 30 in 2020. It was 56 including graphic novels so my total target is 60, with at least half being not-comics.

 

One thing I hope to do is spend a bit less time browsing here, and a lot less time browsing Facebook, and a lot more time reading actual books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. This is How You Lose the Time War. As recommended by @Stopharage in the 2019 thread. This is brilliant.

 

That's the first book down for 2020. I've set a target of 36 - lower than last year as I intend to clear some of the monster tomes on my virtual shelf. 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't see this last year - great idea.

 

1. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis. Don't usually read a lot of non-fiction but I have been following Chase's career for years, through "The Best Phone is the One You Have With You" through to CreativeLive. I struggle to keep any creative hobby going - I start a load of things and never finish them and so bought this to try and motivate me. A lot of it is common sense and things that you probably knew anyway but Chase puts his ideas down in a simple to understand way, using a lot of his personal experiences to illustrate them. There are a lot of actionable tips in the book and certainly some I will be following. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in photography, writing, art etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Started A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold at th beginning of December, finished it this evening (and meeting up with my book club to discuss it on Wednesday). It's basically:

 

He's dead, Dave. Everybody is dead. Everybody is dead, Dave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. Basic premise is boy meets girl (or vice versa I guess), girl goes on a drive with boy to have dinner with his parents at their old farmhouse, all the while thinking she should probably break up with him, then shit gets strange(r) once they get there.

 

I don't usually read much in this genre these days (beyond my 35 year on/off Stephen King habit). But I picked this up on the back of a Guardian preview of forthcoming 2020 films, as Netflix have got this in the pipeline. 

It was enjoyable in a very unsettling & disorienting way and it kept me intrigued as to WTF was actually going on til pretty much the last few pages.

But once you know, it makes sense of all the WTF stuff and made me want to go back and reread the first sections again. To say any more than that would spoil things so I'll shut up now.

 

It's not very long, I burned through it in 2 or 3 sittings. Now very much looking forward to seeing Netflix take on it and hoping they don't fuck it up.

 

I was entertained enough to download another of  the same authors books, Foe, which has started pretty well and seems a bit more SF themed but is still rather unsettling/creepy after only a few pages.

Reviews are good so I have hopes.

 

Not gonna set myself any targets but I've got an absolute load of books in various unfinished states, so I'll get to the end of plenty this year I hope.

 

Edit - Just did a Google on the film version and it would seem it could be a goer - Charlie Kaufman has adapted and is directing and Toni Collette, Jessie Buckley & Jessie Plemons will all be in it so that bodes pretty well I hope. 

 

Double Edit - Sorry about all the film talk in a book thread :facepalm:

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. An utterly depressing and frankly terrifying account of the approaching impacts of climate change. I've read several books on this topic, and this is among the most powerful in terms of the stark vision of just how bad things already are, and will become in our own lifetimes and obviously beyond. 

 

Felt like I needed something light after this, so naturally I've just started a book about a family coping with the grief of a mother's death. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Forbidden War. 
 

to whoever recommended this in the kindle deals thread, thank you. I loved it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter. I didn't love this as much as Lanny, but it is beautifully written, and he's clearly an author with great imagination. He has a fantastic ability to draw you into the the family through a collection of touching and brilliantly visualised snapshot scenes. 

 

Previously: 

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

I got through 27 books in 2019 which is by far my best ever. One of my resolutions this year is to hit 30.

 

Another is to finish the Harry Potter series with my daughter by summer because we're going to the studios as part of the kids' Christmas present. We're on Order of the Phoenix at the mo but it's such a slow read!! I realise why I've not re-read it since I first bought it.

 

I have so many books stacked up to read - I don't think I'll struggle for titles!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh. As every new novel needs to have a strapline as part of its title, this one has “The serial killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury”. Gulp. 
 

In an effort to read a wider range of genres, I bought this on the advice of an end of year recommendation in The Guardian’s review supplement. As I read a fair bit of sci-fi, I’m used to suspending disbelief. However, this novel has some utterly baffling plot twists, ridiculous jumps of faith and some rather silly characters/plotholes/scenarios etc. It’s what you’d imagine an early John Grisham novel would have been like if he’d written it whilst high on peyote. Cliche-ridden and  dumb throughout. You’ll rattle through it pretty quickly and be utterly bemused how the hero solves all manner of puzzles that have left the brightest minds stumped. Utter guff. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Wall by John Lanchester... Set in the near future UK after some global climate catastrophe, a Wall has been built around the whole coastline of the UK to keep out the others.  I really enjoyed it and as obviously apt as it is for present events, it's also a cracking book in and of itself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Best Served Cold, Joe Abercrombie

 

image.png.7ebe9eaea1010e482a69d9be965da3c7.png

 

This takes place in the same world as The First Law trilogy but focuses on different characters, some of whom are secondary characters from the original series of books. The protagonist, Shivers, is so similar to Ninefingers, however, that you'd be forgiven from getting the two mixed up.

 

The plot is essentially a revenge story, as the title implies, and reads like a sort of low fantasy version of Kill Bill. Like the other books, it's very readable and rips along at a pace with lots of twists and double-crossings along the way, but like I said in my first post, it does feel a bit by numbers at times as the central heroes move from one place to the next to the next, killing as they go. Unlike the original trilogy, it doesn't focus on characters in different places, like ASoIaF, but groups them all together at the beginning, and loses something as a result. Abercrombie also turns the violence (and bonking) up to 11 a bit more frequently here than in his other books, which to be honest gets a bit tiresome after a while - he seems to have a particular preference for the word 'stoved', as in 'He stoved his head in with a mace'.

 

For all that, though, I still enjoyed it and read through it quickly and will definitely read the next two in the series.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch. Read a few of Crouch's books previously, including the Wayward Pines series. Don't really rate him that much which might beg the question as to why I've read another one of his books. I do think the general ideas of his books are intriguing but the execution is always somewhat lacking. Also find that the start of the books are really intriguing but once you get to the major reveal, it all start crashing down. This book was a bit different, start and end were decent enough but it really sagged in the middle. It's a novel about memory, time-travel and the potential implications of doing so. Seen a few reviews classify it as hard sci-fi, but it's not. There is some interesting science in there but it's fairly simply explained. It's ideal holiday reading as it's the type of book you'll want to rattle through. Popcorn reading basically. 

 

Next: continuing to savour a chapter of Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs every evening. And Descent of Man by Grayson Perry.

 

Spoiler

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 06/01/2020 at 19:22, little che said:

The Wall by John Lanchester... Set in the near future UK after some global climate catastrophe, a Wall has been built around the whole coastline of the UK to keep out the others.  I really enjoyed it and as obviously apt as it is for present events, it's also a cracking book in and of itself. 

Popped it in the For free thread but I have a new copy of this going spare if anyone wants it? Was bought for me as a Xmas pressie but had already read it. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

 

The story of the USA's race to put men into space. I knew this was a classic, and I enjoyed the film version, and indeed I love any documentary I see about the 1960s space programme, so I'm not surprised to have enjoyed this too. It's more about the mindsets of the people involved than it is about the cold hard facts of the space race: mainly the astronauts, obviously, but also their wives, the NASA and Air Force staff, the politicians, the media, and the general public. As such Tom Wolfe took some creative liberties in his telling of this true story - in particular Gus Grissom gets very poor treatment, possibly because he was no longer around to object. But as a fictionalised version of real events that now feel - sixty years later! - like both a step into the future and a relic of the past, it's excellent. What a great way to start the new year and another new decade.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon - Simon Spurrier & various artists (graphic novel)

 

Reviewed here:

 

 

Spoiler

1. The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

2. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon - Simon Spurrier & various artists (graphic novel)

3. Immortal Hulk: Breaker of Worlds - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

4. Room by Emma Donohue. I've had this on my Kindle for years and never much fancied it, but I'm really trying to clear my backlog so forced myself to start it. In reality, like several popular books I've turned my nose up at, this was actually really good once I got started. I think the child narrator felt slightly forced at times, and it could have been much, much shorter, but the bulk of the story was very effective - both terrifying and beautiful in its illustration of a mother-son relationship.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a crap year last year and things went off the boil somewhat, only autiobooks really kept the numbers up towards the end. This year I'm aiming for 30 again. Not off to a great start, had to abandon The Madness Of Crowds by Douglas Murray as it was absolute cobblers. Someone recommended it to me, and although it goes against my politics I thought it would be a good way to avoid confirmation bias. Essentially though it's "aren't SJWs all idiots", citing all the sorts of hot-button topics that got lazy alt-right Youtubers up in arms the last few years. He spends a whole chapter moaning about how Google Image Search shows pictures of black people when you search for "white man". And whilst it was genuinely amusing hearing him read out lyrics to Nicki Minaj tracks in his smug, plummy tones, that wasn't enough to justify the sheer tedium I experienced.  As I find myself saying a lot at times like this: life's too short, could be reading something worthwhile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 08/01/2020 at 14:00, Stopharage said:

Popped it in the For free thread but I have a new copy of this going spare if anyone wants it? Was bought for me as a Xmas pressie but had already read it. 

If it's still going I'd be interested. if not then okay, fair enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Vimster said:

If it's still going I'd be interested. if not then okay, fair enough.

Still available. Send me your address and I’ll pop it in the post. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2. The Nickel boys by Colson Whitehead.  The story of a reform school and the horrors inflicted upon the young boys there. Its on lots of best of 2019 lists and that is well justified. It's only a few hundred pages do can be read in a few days but the effect of it lasts a lot longer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry. I really like Grayson Perry. Not so keen on his artwork but as a human he's a pretty decent one. This is a book about the future of masculinity and the issues of toxic masculinity. As a father of two boys there was some engaging views on parenthood and what fathers expect (fairly and unfairly) of their sons. He addresses his own upbringing and how he found himself drawn to becoming a transvestite whilst having an overbearing and violent father figure. If you watched his documentary series on Channel 4 (the age of man?) then this covers a lot of the old ground but its informative and important. Recommended, although don't go expecting anything particularly revolutionary or overly innovative.

Spoiler

 

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch

3. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A quick primer. I read more books in the last quarter of 2019 than I had in my previous 37 years combined. This is mostly due to me stopping playing video games (the irony of posting this on here) and watching TV. 
 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 
 

2. Educated - Tara Westover. I’ve not read many books in my life but this ranks near/at the top. Devoured it over a weekend and found great value / meaning in so much of the content. 
 

3. How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog - Chad Orzel. Read this as a follow on to A Brief History of Time. Initially the ‘dog speak’ was off putting but overall the content was interesting and thoroughly digestible. 
 

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Rob_Pulsar said:

 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 

Have you read Vicious by her? Different genre of fiction but equally enjoyable. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Stopharage said:

Have you read Vicious by her? Different genre of fiction but equally enjoyable. 


I have! Both Vicious and Villains - they were my first of hers and I’m now hooked! 
 

Thanks for the suggestions though. I’ve taken 3 or 4 books from this thread and added them to my ‘to read’ list so thanks to all for sharing their thoughts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Rob_Pulsar said:

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

I just came here to post that myself. An astonishingly personal and heartfelt account of the 1996 disaster on Everest.

  • Upvote 1

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

  • 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.