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Jamie John

What books did you read in 2020?

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Spoiler

 

1. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

2. How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

4. Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey

 

 

5. Sober by Tony Adams

 

I'm always a sucker for a footballer's autobiography - I wasn't aware this is essentially volume 2 - his first book, Addicted, was published before the end of his playing career and chronicles Adams' fight with alcohol.  This book is about how he's managed to stay sober, and what he has done with his career since hanging up his boots.

 

It's a better and more comprehensive read than I expected - his insight into both the sport and the world of addiction/rehabilitation is very interesting.  He's given a lot of his life to helping other addicts via his Sporting Chance clinic and has a constant battle to keep sober (which he has now been for over 20 years).  

 

The downsides to this are the fact that I cannot agree with his views on the national side, and the importance he places on English coaches for the best teams - there definitely seems to be a how shall we say 'traditional' aspect to the game that he is passionate about which is reflected in his style of coaching.  His many adventures in and around the coaching/director of football roles in various countries surprised me because aside from his stint with Granada, I had no idea how widely he's travelled.  He can also come across as rather odd - but he is so devoted to his recovery and the spiritual aspects of sobriety and rehabilitation that I can't begrudge him too much.  I also think he's aware of this!

 

This is worth a read if you like this sort of thing - if you're an Arsenal fan, it's essential reading.  I do wish I'd have realised there's a prior chapter that's already been published and I'll look out for that because Adams has a lot of interesting things to say and I'd like to hear more.

 

3.5/5

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9. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: A Rogue's End - Simon Spurrier & Caspar WijnGaard (graphic novel)

 

The latest, and last-but-not-really, part of this excellent ongoing Star Wars series.

 

 

 

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)

4. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice - Claudia Gray

5. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

7. The Spirit of the Dragon - William Andrews

8. Different Seasons - Stephen King

9. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: A Rogue's End - Simon Spurrier & Caspar WijnGaard (graphic novel)

 

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Spoiler

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. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

 

13 - Where The Crawdsds Sing - Delia Owens.  Picked this up blind not knowing that it was a generally very highly rated novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with it and would recommend it unreservedly.

 

14 - Wild - Cheryl Strayed.  I watched the movie a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  The topic fits in with a recent passion I've found for being outdoors / in nature and walking.  I really enjoyed the book overall and would recommend it.

 

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10. Nasher Says Relax - Brian Nash

 

This is the autobiography of the guitarist in Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I was a massive Frankie fan in the mid 80s (their second album was my first ever CD) but never really knew much about them behind the scenes. This is a very entertaining look behind the curtain and blimey, it seems there was trouble in paradise almost from the start. Having read this, the surprise isn't that they split up almost immediately after releasing that second album, it's that they stayed together long enough to even consider recording it. Nasher is pretty positive about most of his bandmates, but Holly Johnson gets it with both barrels, as does Trevor Horn and the rest of the ZTT (the record label) machine. Of course, this is only one side of the story, and not at all definitive, but it's fascinating nevertheless. He's not the world's best writer (or guitarist, as he's happy to acknowledge), and he has a habit of protesting a little too much about how much he doesn't care about things that he's just spent several paragraphs or even pages complaining about, but he wears his heart on his sleeve and there are moments that are genuinely touching and at times even quite profound. If you are, or were, a Frankie fan then it's a great read.

 

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)

4. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice - Claudia Gray

5. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

7. The Spirit of the Dragon - William Andrews

8. Different Seasons - Stephen King

9. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: A Rogue's End - Simon Spurrier & Caspar WijnGaard (graphic novel)

10. Nasher Says Relax - Brian Nash

11. Star Wars: Target Vader - Robbie Thompson & Marc Laming (graphic novel)

 

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19. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I've seen the film of course, and even though the book is really close, I still totally loved it. McCarthy is such an amazing writer. The characters and dialogue are just perfect throughout. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

 

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20. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. I loved this. Not at all what I expected, though I'm not sure what I did expect, as I don't think I've ever even seen the film. But yeah, really great.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

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1 hour ago, Miner Willy said:

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. I loved this. Not at all what I expected, though I'm not sure what I did expect, as I don't think I've ever even seen the film. But yeah, really great.

 

:o Rectify this immediately!

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Antisocial: How Online Extremists Broke America by Andrew Marantz. 
 

Written by one of the newer kids at the New Yorker, this is billed as a look at how the Alt-Right and associates changed the political discourse. In reality it is a Jon Ronson affair of the author meeting with and following some of the popular people in that Twittersphere.
 

Unlike Jon Ronson the author doesn’t have much sympathy or humour. Rather it seems like quite a snooty book. You won’t really learn anything from reading it - wouldn’t recommend. 

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Spoiler

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. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

 

13 - Where The Crawdsds Sing - Delia Owens.  Picked this up blind not knowing that it was a generally very highly rated novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with it and would recommend it unreservedly.

 

14 - Wild - Cheryl Strayed.  I watched the movie a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  The topic fits in with a recent passion I've found for being outdoors / in nature and walking.  I really enjoyed the book overall and would recommend it.

 

15 - The Dutch House - Ann Patchett.  This was a pleasant read that started slowly and built to be a very enjoyable character led story.  I think it's great and will likely read it again in a few years.

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21. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. I didn't love this, surprisingly enough. It's obviously very well written, but the story is just pretty bleak and unpleasant, and while it is at times possible to feel pity for the antihero, I struggled to find anything in the book that I could grab on to or relate with. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

 

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Today feels like an appropriate day for a February book update!

 

Not as many books read this month, in large part due to spending more time playing Jedi Fallen Order (which is awesome!)

 

9. The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt) (05/02)

 

Last of the Conn Iggulden fantasy trilogy.  Great fun and a satisfying conclusion, but think I prefer his historical fiction overall.

 

10. The Toymakers (10/02)

 

This has been in my virtual pile for a while but was reminded of it by a friend.  I enjoyed it overall but did find it a bit up and down.  It felt like it couldn’t decide how fantastical it wanted to be at times. I found the core idea really appealing and quite lovely though (at least my reading of it!)

 

11. Little Women (16/02)

 

I thought I’d give this a go given all the praise I’d heard for the recent film, which I’ve still not seen.  It was a big disappointment - like a less interesting/endearing version of Anne of Green Gables.  I’m still interested in seeing the film, but have low expectations now.

 

12. Leviathan Wakes (23/02)

 

I’ve not watched The Expanse but given how many people seem to like it thought I’d try the books.  This is the first in the series, and I’ve already bought the next one - really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting (in a good way) and was quite a page turner.  Particularly liked the realism in the effect of space travel and communication (well, it seems plausible that it’s realistic at least!)

 

13. Guards! Guards! (28/02)

 

Continuing my re-read of Pratchett in release order, I’ve been really looking forward to this one - the City Watch books are probably my favourite in the Discworld series (maybe joint top with the Witches).  It’s perhaps 20 years since I last read this, shockingly, and it’s still brilliant and made me laugh out loud in a few place.

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22. Mythos by Stephen Fry. I listened to this on Audible, read by Fry himself, which probably added to the enjoyment. I probably knew less than half of the stories, though was fascinated to discover just how much of our current culture has its origins in The Greek myth. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

 

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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

 

My second read of this. It's a post-apocalyptic tale that takes place around 9 years after a fatal flu epidemic has hit the world (Ooh, timely. Although I had started this re-read before our current pre apocalyptic situation reared its head). Set in the wide open spaces, prairies and airstrips of North America, it tells the story of the pilot of a light aircraft and his new life resettling in the semi wilderness after losing almost everything he loves. It might not sound like it from the premise, but it's a lovely book, explores his relationships with the few living beings who are left alive while getting back to basics and rediscovering the beauty of the world that has survived. 

It does have its share of some of the usual plot points you get in a post apocalyptic novel (bad people wanting your stuff etc) but there is so much more to it than that. Moving in many places, some lovely nature writing and all in all its pretty uplifting. I suppose the nearest thing I could compare it to is Station Eleven, it's got that sort of gentle, laid back vibe to it, but still with an edge. Really is a lovely book (I mean, look at the cover, who wouldn't want to read that??)

Screenshot_20200305-194724.png

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11. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence. Final instalment in the trilogy that melds time travel, the multiverse,  a group of D&D players, and a cancer-ridden first person protagonist who is a genius. In all honesty, I thought the trilogy was pretty ordinary and was sci-fi for Dan Brown lovers; enjoyable enough when you're reading it but you feel a little bit grubby afterwards.

 

Spoiler

 

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch

3. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

4. The Future Starts Here by John Higgs

5. Man's Search For Reason by Victor Frankl

6. Nomad by Alan Partridge

7. Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

8. Animal Farm by George Orwell

9. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

10. Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade

11. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

 

 

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Spoiler

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. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

 

13 - Where The Crawdsds Sing - Delia Owens.  Picked this up blind not knowing that it was a generally very highly rated novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with it and would recommend it unreservedly.

 

14 - Wild - Cheryl Strayed.  I watched the movie a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  The topic fits in with a recent passion I've found for being outdoors / in nature and walking.  I really enjoyed the book overall and would recommend it.

 

15 - The Dutch House - Ann Patchett.  This was a pleasant read that started slowly and built to be a very enjoyable character led story.  I think it's great and will likely read it again in a few years.

 

16 - American Dirt - Jeanine Cummins.  There's a little controversy about this (mainly in the US) which I wasn't aware of when I bought it.  It did play on my mind a little as I started the book but was forgotten by the end.  It's a tough read as it is describing a pretty harrowing journey for characters you begin to really care about.  Overall I enjoyed it and felt I gained an understanding of something I was very naive about.

 

17 - Touching The Void - Joe Simpson.  This is a quick and interesting read that fed my hunger for more 'Into Thin Air' mountaineering tragedies.  I winced at the description of some of the injuries and suffering but overall the (true) story is uplifting.

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4. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey - Apparently this guy is a rapper in Glasgow. Anyway he talks about being brought up in poverty, living with drug and alcohol problems, and adds in some insight into things he feels the media and politicians miss when it comes to talking about poorer people in society. Some interesting bits but some of the autobiographical parts felt more like a therapy session for the author than anything.
 

Spoiler

 

1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

2. Austerity: The History Of A Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

3. The Innocent by David Baldacci

4. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

 

 

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3. The Heroes, Joe Abercrombie

 

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I seem to be getting through books at an especially glacial pace this year, but then I'm reading more magazines and listening to more podcasts, so I suppose it stands to reason.

 

Anyway, after the enjoyable but clunky fourth book in The First Law series, this, the fifth entry, I thought was more successful. It introduces a slew of (mostly) new characters, or develops minor characters from the earlier books, and as such feels a bit like a spin-off than a 'proper' entry to the series, but I still found that it was good fun all the same - nice and bloody, anyway. I've only got the sixth and final book in the series to go now but I'm hoping he'll return to some of the characters from the original trilogy.

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23. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy. The final in the border trilogy, which I loved. I think All the Pretty Horses was my favourite, but all were great. Brilliant writing, fantastic dialogue, and of course brutal acts of cruelty performed by horrible men. I loved the character of John Grady, who appeared in this and All the Pretty Horses. Oh, and the dialogue in this one was really funny on many occasions - I laughed out loud while listening to it. (I listened on Audible - the performance was excellent too).

 

I should probably try to read something more light hearted next if I'm going to spend months in a tiny flat contemplating the end of the world. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

 

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18 minutes ago, Miner Willy said:

23. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy. The final in the border trilogy, which I loved. I think All the Pretty Horses was my favourite, but all were great. Brilliant writing, fantastic dialogue, and of course brutal acts of cruelty performed by horrible men. I loved the character of John Grady, who appeared in this and All the Pretty Horses. Oh, and the dialogue in this one was really funny on many occasions - I laughed out loud while listening to it. (I listened on Audible - the performance was excellent too).

 

I should probably try to read something more light hearted next if I'm going to spend months in a tiny flat contemplating the end of the world. 

 

Previously:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

 

 

See how you get on with Suttree, also by McCarthy. It stands out as being quite unlike his other work, more of a picaresque - less plot-driven and a lot more meandering than his other stuff, but (relatively) light-hearted and more comical, too.

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25 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

 

See how you get on with Suttree, also by McCarthy. It stands out as being quite unlike his other work, more of a picaresque - less plot-driven and a lot more meandering than his other stuff, but (relatively) light-hearted and more comical, too.

 

Thanks. Consider it bought!

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8 minutes ago, Miner Willy said:

 

Thanks. Consider it bought!

 

His whole back catalogue is worth a read, if you ask me, but then he's probably my favourite author. If you want full-on, Faulkner-esque Southern Gothic nastiness then check out Outer Dark, his sophomore novel. It's the most baldly allegorical work he's done, I'd say.

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American War- Omar El Akkad

 

Set towards the end of this century it's   based around the premise that a number of southern states secede  America from the union due to the  divergence from fossil fuels  and a civil war ensues. The book follows a southern girl and her family as she's redicalised  and the consequences of that.

 

It's not a long book and none of the protagonists are particularly likeable so it's a credit to the  author that it remains very readable and engaging throughout. Some of the setup and the vision of a climate ravaged America is quite scary but well done.

 

picked up Cloud Atlas for $2 in an op shop yesterday so straight into that next.

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Spoiler

 

1. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

2. How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

4. Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey

5. Sober by Tony Adams

 

 

6. Caliban's War by James S A Corey

 

Part 2 of The Expanse, and yep - I bloody love this series.  The returning characters have added depth to them, new characters are pretty awesome, the drama is increased, the setting is fantastic, the pacing is spot on and I am really looking forward to part 3.

 

5/5

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Spoiler

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. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

 

13 - Where The Crawdsds Sing - Delia Owens.  Picked this up blind not knowing that it was a generally very highly rated novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with it and would recommend it unreservedly.

 

14 - Wild - Cheryl Strayed.  I watched the movie a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  The topic fits in with a recent passion I've found for being outdoors / in nature and walking.  I really enjoyed the book overall and would recommend it.

 

15 - The Dutch House - Ann Patchett.  This was a pleasant read that started slowly and built to be a very enjoyable character led story.  I think it's great and will likely read it again in a few years.

 

16 - American Dirt - Jeanine Cummins.  There's a little controversy about this (mainly in the US) which I wasn't aware of when I bought it.  It did play on my mind a little as I started the book but was forgotten by the end.  It's a tough read as it is describing a pretty harrowing journey for characters you begin to really care about.  Overall I enjoyed it and felt I gained an understanding of something I was very naive about.

 

17 - Touching The Void - Joe Simpson.  This is a quick and interesting read that fed my hunger for more 'Into Thin Air' mountaineering tragedies.  I winced at the description of some of the injuries and suffering but overall the (true) story is uplifting.

 

18 - A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson.  I wanted something lighter after the last 2 reads and this hit the spot.  I chuckled more than once and sounds the book to be full of peripheral detail (about the history of the AT and related persons / events) that was rather unexpected.  I'll likely pick up another Bill Bryson book based on this.

 

@multi - I have 'the dog stars' sat here to read in the next few weeks based on your review.  Thanks for sharing.

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3. Armada by Ernest Cline

 

Hmmmm. I really enjoyed Ready Player One (the book at least) and was looking forward to this. Unfortunately it was all a bit "on the nose" (the fact it has even made me use that expression has annoyed me). In RPO the pop culture references were used to good effect in the story but here they are the story and it's not a very good one. The plot was somehow both ridiculous and predictable, Overall, disappointed/10. Next up Blue Moon by Lee Child.

 

 



1. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis

2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

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24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Reading these to my daughter. She absolutely loved this, and to be fair it was loads better than the first one, though it still had a pretty long boring patch in the middle. Still think the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry add significantly to the experience.

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 

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25. The City and the City. I thought the twin city premise was brilliant, and I loved the way the author didn't explicitly explain what it was about from the outset. However, the murder mystery narrative did little for me, and there's barely a character of note in the entire book. As impressive as certain aspects are, I think for me it would have worked better as a short story. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

 

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26. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. I suspect Whitehead is one of those brilliant authors where anything they write is pretty great, but i didn't think this was in the same league as The a Underground Railroad. 

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

 

 

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12. Zed by Joanna Kavenna - Society is ruled by algorithms and huge technology corporations which can predict future events and shape society. There's some really interesting ideas running through the novel but there's an awful lot of bloat and meandering chapters. Yet another novel that needs a decent editor, as it gets a bit dull in places. The general premise and certain chapters are really intriguing and engaging but I ca't recommend it fully. 

 

13. What I Talk About, When I Talk About Running by Haruka Murikami - I really enjoy Murakami and love running so I was always going to like this. The title says it all really and Murikami clearly describes the impact running has had on his life, his desire to challenge himself and to reinvent his exercise regime. The best thing about his writing is that it comes across as so totally natural and accessible, whilst showing real craft and skill. 

Spoiler

 

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch

3. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

4. The Future Starts Here by John Higgs

5. Man's Search For Reason by Victor Frankl

6. Nomad by Alan Partridge

7. Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

8. Animal Farm by George Orwell

9. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

10. Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade

11. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

12. Zed by Joanna Kavenna

13. What I Talk About, When I Talk About Running by Haruka Murikami

 

 

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