Jump to content
rllmuk
Jamie John

What books did you read in 2020?

Recommended Posts

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

 

Have seen the movie b the Wachowski's (they of the matrix ) and it actually does a better job of being consistently entertaining than the book. Some of the stories were fantastic but others interminable and improved greatly by the brevity forced upon them by the run time of the movie. Somewhat more downbeat than the movie which obviously has to do some crowd pleasing. Real curates egg of a book.

 

I've been extremely distracted this year hence the amateur numbers (3) this year.

 

The Shipping News next.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

34. Smile of the Wolf by Tim Leach. This was recommended by a friend who runs a writing website, so I was expecting good things - and wasn't disappointed. Set in post-Viking era Iceland, it's a pretty simple story, but is powerful, bleak, sad and just wonderfully written.

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here’s my list for April...

 

19. Abaddon’s Gate (07/04)

Still really enjoying the Expanse series. Like the fact that (so far) every book feels quite different. 

 

20. Truckers (11/04)

My son (6) wanted to read a Terry Pratchett book after seeing mine on the bookshelf and I thought this would be a good place to start, especially as I’d not read this myself. He gave up halfway through - mostly due to getting more Wimpy Kid books - but it was fun reading this together for a while. 

 

21. Touching the Void (14/04)

Read this after seeing recommendations here. Good read, although I just can’t understand why you’d try something like this!

 

22. Cibola Burn (24/04)

Another enjoyable Expanse book. Liked the change in setting with this mostly taking place on a planet. 

 

23. The Nickel Boys (27/04)

Another that has been recommended here. Great read - hard to say enjoyable given the subject matter, but I thought it was brilliant (although depressing). Preferred this to the Underground Railroad. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

 

After reading Bruce Dickinson and Brian Nash's autobiographies, I thought I'd move on to another 80s music bloke whose name begins with B. The era is just me showing my age, the initial is purely coincidental. I was a massive Billy Idol fan in the 80s: the first song I learned to play on the guitar at age 15 was one of his album tracks (Blue Highway), and both the bands I was in as a teenager used to play White Wedding and Rebel Yell. And this is a pretty comprehensive account of what was going on behind the scenes as he was pumping out those hits. He's a decent writer although he occasionally strays into Accidental Partridge territory, especially when describing some of his early sexual experiences, but even then he made me laugh more than cringe. Most of all though this is remarkable for his frankness about his drug abuse and how much of a git he was to the people around him. Basically, having been part of the London punk scene from the beginning, he moved to America to start a solo career when his band broke up in 1980, and immediately threw himself into the party/junkie lifestyle, spending most of the next decade or so out of his head and feeling invincible, at least until his motorbike accident in the early 90s which brought him face to face with his own fragility and mortality, which was the catalyst for him (eventually) getting off the drugs. But as he straightened up the music suffered too, so perhaps it was the combination of drug-fuelled overconfidence and his ongoing punk "let's just do it" attitude that had allowed him to overcome his own limitations as a musician (which he is also very happy to acknowledge) and produce those few nuggets of pop/rock gold. And while he's very frank about his own indiscretions (of which there were many) he's much more circumspect when it comes to those of the people around him, and he never blames them for any of the many arguments, fights or total relationship breakdowns they were involved in, taking full responsibility for his own extensive contribution to those situations. The whole thing comes across as what it is: the thoughts of an older and much wiser man looking back on his younger self not with regret but with honesty.

 

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)

12: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron  - Alexander Freed

13: Christine - Stephen King

14: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Rae Carson

15: Star Wars: Rogues and Rebels - Greg Pak & Phil Noto (graphic novel)

16. Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Touching the Void was brilliant. Slightly moot now, but I saw the play shortly before lockdown hit: it's a fantastically inventive and gripping adaptation of the story. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

35. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. Fascinating story of the systematic murder of dozens of Osage native Americans in the 1920s. The brazenness and callousness of the perpetrators was pretty astonishing. I thought the final section, which follows a journalist trying to piece together the facts by following a 100-year cold trail, was especially interesting. 

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Raced through this in 24h (thanks, lockdown) and found it entertaining and thought provoking - and pretty scary too, I guess. It's the first Ronson I've read since reading Them years and years ago. I should probably try some others. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

7. The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

8. Vespasian - The Furies of Rome by Robert Fabbri

9. Star Wars: Queen's Shadow by E K Johnston

 

 

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

 

I hadn't read this before, I remember one of the English sets at school got to read it whilst us snooty top-setters read something far less interesting.  Always meant to get around to reading this and lockdown finally gave me the opportunity.

 

Ah - I so wish I'd have read this when I was a kid because it really is a masterpiece.  Absolutely beautifully written, the allegories are just fantastic and it's a book that will stay with me for a long time.  There's no wonder so many people choose this as one of their all time favourites.

 

Like I said, I REALLY wish I'd have read this two and a half decades ago.

 

4.5/5

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

18 Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

 

I've seen and loved the film but never read the book, until now. This is great (but obviously grim) stuff, and so well written that almost every sentence is quotable. No wonder the film lifted so much of the dialogue (and internal monologue) word for word. My only petty gripe is that the novel makes it pretty clear that my personal theory from the film, about Marla

 

Spoiler

being yet another of the protagonist's multiple personalities rather than an actual separate person

 

is definitely wrong, but me being wrong about that is hardly the author's fault. The ending's different too, and now I can't decide which version is the bleakest.

 

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)

12: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron  - Alexander Freed

13: Christine - Stephen King

14: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Rae Carson

15: Star Wars: Rogues and Rebels - Greg Pak & Phil Noto (graphic novel)

16. Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

18. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

19. Third World War: Book 1 - Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra (graphic novel)

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been in a good run of book during this lockdown. Been alternating between a heavy read and then something light.


Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey - Superb first book in the series (have watched all the TV seasons but was still gripped)
Me by Elton John Official Autobiography - surprised how honest and revealing this was
Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey - thought this was even better than the first book.
Gotta Get Theroux by Louis Theroux - been reading Louis discuss certain epsiodes he made and then re-watching them afterwards. Don't think I've watch the Weird Weekend ones which they were first broadcast.

 

Now not sure what to read next, I have the next Expanse book (Abaddon's Gate), I also was given the Foundation (1951) Isaac Asimov.
Can't decide which one yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

The fallout (literal and metaphorical) of a war has devastating impact on the world. The book focuses on one of the areas which are last to be impacted by the ramifications of the conflict. It’s a weird mix of people getting on with daily life and it’s mundanity whilst also having to adapt to the foreboding and imminent tragic future. The main characters are all very well fleshed out and there’s a haunting quality that runs throughout. I enjoyed it although there are a few lulls in places. 
 

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

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flat Earth News by Nick Davies - From 2008, scathing look at UK print media with a nod towards the BBC and internet. He talks about the way "churnalism" and commercialisation of news has led to a decline in the quality of reporting, as well as a lot of the issues around how poorly-reported news gets turned into fact - the Millennium Bug is a good example of that. A lot of the book is dedicated to failings around the reporting with regards the 2003 Iraq war and how between them journalists, government and security agencies shifted towards war. Whilst it does rather gloss over the internet and came before social media was the all-encompassing thing it is today, this is still very informative. 

 

The Wall by John Lanchester - allegorical novel set in a Britain where, following some unspecified historic event, a wall has been erected around the entire coast to keep The Others out. The story is told from the viewpoint of a conscript stationed on The Wall. It has a very stripped-down style, maybe not quite Cormack Macarthy but getting there. It does feel inspired by political happenings of the last five years or so and tensions between older and younger people, and I fear that without that context it will probably be forgotten in time. Very much a contemporary novel, may be to lean and abstract for some. 

 

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

5.  Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

6. The Wall by John Lanchester

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

7. The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

8. Vespasian - The Furies of Rome by Robert Fabbri

9. Star Wars: Queen's Shadow by E K Johnston

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

 

 

11. How Not to Be a Football Millionaire by Keith Gillespie

 

This was very entertaining.  I didn't actually have any idea that Gillespie was a gambling addict - merely that he was no stranger to controversy during his career.  This is a very honest account of that career in which although he admits stupidity on occasions, when describing some of the more controversial incidents, doesn't really appear to have any remorse whatsoever.  I can't say I found him to be particularly likeable but I don't think that's the most important thing about an autobiography.  For instance, Diego Maradona's book is amazing but the guy is a grade A fuckstick.

 

Lots of former professionals get the brunt of Gillespie's ire in this - poor Kevin Blackwell REALLY doesn't come out of it very well at all!  His description of infamous incidents such as La Manga during his Leicester days are certainly informative...  It's certainly a page turner!

 

Definitely worth a look for football fans - it's up there with the better footballer autobiographies if only for the volume of scrapes he had during his career.  Some completely self inflicted, others due to naivety, some out of his control.  Even though he's suffered quite the fall from grace, don't expect to come out completely filled with sympathy for him by the end.

 

4/5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

37. Laurus by Eugene Vodoladzkin. Not sure that to say about this. It's essentially the story of a holy man/healer/monk/pilgrim in 15th century Russia, who essentially spends most of his life attempting to atone for perceived sin, but it has pretty broad scope and is at times surreal, funny and sad. There were parts I really enjoyed, but overall left feeling I didn't quite 'get' it. 

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

5. The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

 

It’s probably worth starting by saying that I am a massive Coben fan. He’s obviously found some success on television recently, first with The Five for Sky and then Safe and The Stranger on Netflix. He has a third series for Netflix, The Woods due next month. The Five and Safe were written especially for television whereas The Stranger and The Woods were based on his books. The Stranger was my least favourite of the three to date, probably as I preferred the book.

 

The first book I read of his was Tell No One back in 2002. I’d never heard of him before but my Mum was an avid reader and thought I’d like it. I read it in pretty much one sitting and over the next month or so read all of his previous books. What I hadn’t realised was that Tell No One was somewhat of a departure for him with all his books up to that point featuring the same character, the marvellously named Myron Bolitar (viewers of The Stranger may have noticed a Bolitar hotel). Myron was an ex basketball star turned Private Investigator and the books generally had a sporting pun as a title - Back Spin, Drop Shot etc. They were entertaining enough but Tell No One was his biggest success to date and since then he has focused on the standalone novels more than Myron (the last Myron novel being Home in 2016).

 

The Boy from the Woods features Myron’s lawyer Hester Crimstein as one of the main characters and is my favourite since Six Years back in 2013. It isn’t quite as twisty as some of his others, with more focus on character development but it’s all the better for that. In fact it’s the first of his standalone books where I really want to see further books with the same character.

 

What was really special recently was my 15 year old daughter loved the two Netflix series and asked if I would get her one of his books to read. Naturally I went with Tell No One - her Gran would have been proud.

 

Previously:



1. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis
2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
3. Armada by Ernest Cline

4. Blue Moon by Lee Child

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7. Hey Listen! by Steve McNeil - The Go 8-Bit guy writes a condensed history of video games with a few jokes thrown in. Most people on this forum won't learn anything from this book, it skims over the development of arcades before running through a largely Japanese/American version of events, concentrating on Nintendo, SEGA and the like, with a token mention of UK gaming. Not quite sure of the point of this book, as I say if you're into games you'll be at least vaguely aware of a lot of the info here, but if you're not I can't really see this being of interest or a way in. The jokes didn't really work. Hmmm.


 

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

5.  Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

6. The Wall by John Lanchester

7. Hey Listen! by Steve McNeil

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century by John Higgs This was a really good read. Higgs tries to capture the vast change that mankind went through in the 20th Century, focusing on the growth of individualism and the death of the omphalos. He looks at how the world of art changed, how science changed our understanding of reality, how conflict came to characterise our existence and much more. I'm doing it an awful disservice in this description but it's genuinely interesting, highly informative and engaging throughout.

 

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp It was a sunny day yesterday, so after shifting two tonnes of soil I decided to savour the weather and read a pacy thriller. From the screenwriter of Jurassic Park and Carlito's Way, so thought it would at least be mildly diverting; nonsensical bubblegum for the brain, if you want. Well, it's utter bilge. Just rubbish. Dull, hackneyed characters. A plot that doesn't really do an awful lot. An intro which is around a fifth of the book. Plot devices that are mind bogglingly dumb. To give you an idea of how shit it is, there is a point where two characters who work in a self-storage centre hear that an alarm is going in the facility. An alarm they've never been aware of. They manage to find out that something is triggering the alarm which is 4 floors below the facility they work at. They dismantle two different walls, crack open a manhole cover, go down four floors through a ladder in a small tube before eventually arriving where the alarm notification is coming from. They only think to Google any of the information and acronyms they see when they are on their way back up. It's utter guff. Nothing really happens. It's utterly dumb. I feel ashamed to have persevered with it for so long. Will now have to cleanse myself with something decent. 

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

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

38. The North Water by Ian McGuire. Had this on my Kindle for years and never really fancied it for some reason, so forced myself to start it and actually thought it was great. It's a simple story about a whaling trip, but moreso about the people on board and one memorably evil character. In that respect the study of human evil element has some similarities with Cormac McCarthy, though the writing style is very different. In its own way it is impressively written though, with a believable cast of flawed characters. 

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 03/05/2020 at 07:55, Miner Willy said:

34. Smile of the Wolf by Tim Leach. This was recommended by a friend who runs a writing website, so I was expecting good things - and wasn't disappointed. Set in post-Viking era Iceland, it's a pretty simple story, but is powerful, bleak, sad and just wonderfully written.

 

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

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

 


Thanks for the recommendation, picked this up on kindle unlimited, and I’m really enjoying it.

 

It reminds me of Robert Low’s Oathsworn series, though the writing here is better than Low’s.
 

It’s one of those books that you want to savour and read in small chunks, so you can stop and think about it. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doomsday book by Connie Willis. 

I read this at ages 19, thirty years ago in university. I only remembered that it was about an Oxford student who accidentally gets trapped in the path of the black death after time travelling to the 14th century. Always fancied rereading it and its excellent.... 

What I had forgotten was that the contemporary parts of the book, where they are trying to retrieve her have an emerging pandemic occurring in Oxford with a full on quarantine, American visitors protesting at the infringement on their freedoms and protests for the UK to leave the European union.  Weirdly its set in the year 2050s but it refers to a global pandemic that happened a generation before.    

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

39. Saving Missy by Beth Morrey. I read this as I was basically being nosey, since we're somewhat friendly with the author (she's the mother of a kid in our daughter's school class). It's not a genre I'd normally go for (apparently it's termed 'uplit'), but then I thought that about Eleanor Oliphant, and I did really like that so thought I'd give it a try. It has some similarities in terms of covering recovery from loneliness, though this is also very much about ageing, support networks and parenthood. Oh, and dogs, which I have no interest in. There were parts I didn't love (it's very Islington/Stoke Newington, which isn't surprising as it's where we live; and the book is full of an endless line of unrealistically lovely and supportive characters), but overall I thought it was really quite enjoyable, and the author impressively conveys the main character's decisions and restrained emotions 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

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

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been inactive in the thread because I've still been on a huge non fiction kick of late, mostly reading 20th century military history.   I did just finish The Fight by Norman Mailer which is his story of being embedded in Kinshasa to cover The Rumble in the Jungle. My main interest in the book was just getting a contemporary take on what Muhammad Ali and George Foreman were like in their prime as so much revisionist stuff has been written and spoken about the men since.  It feels like Mailer struggles to get to know the young George Foreman as he was a standoffish guy with a fearsome reputation, Ali on the other hand is pretty much the dictionary definition of charisma. There are other 'famous' people you get to spend time with too, Bundini Brown, Don King & Hunter S Thompson to name a few.  I'm still not sure how  I feel about Mailer's prose, he's seen as one of the great late 20th century writers in America, his description of the actual fight is as good as anything I've ever seen and some of his observations, metaphors and turns of phrase are genuinely beautiful but I struggle to keep up with the ideas he's constantly throwing out at times, he appears to struggle with race too. I get that the times then were more racially charged and he would have definitely felt it even more when being a white men not only surrounded by black men in what was seen at the time as Africa's coming out party, but successful black men with confidence and big personalities.  I had thought we'd moved on from a lot of that stuff, but I guess it's always been bubbling under.   Really interesting time capsule of 1974 though and you can probably get through it in a single sitting if you wanted to.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

It's Louis Theroux, what's not to love? Well, a few parts actually. I mean most of it is great but there are a few chapters where it's pretty much describing the contents of particular episodes, where its adds little to the viewing experience and is more like the audio descriptive version of a tv programme. A lot on Saville with very little on Westboro; I felt over focusing on specific issues to the detriment of others left it a bit unbalanced He's pretty honest about his failings whilst his childhood and family upbringing give an insight into how he turned out the way he is. Having read it, I've gone off him a little bit. I still really like him but I didn't feel this made me sympathetic towards him or 'root for him' in the way that other autobiographical books have Maybe that just goes to prove how good he is at portraying the truth behind the story. 

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

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp

20. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

40. The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. This has been on my Kindle for years and I've no recollection how or why it got there. I had some problems with some elements, but I did like the main character, and found it emotionally powerful, especially the final few chapters.

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20. Pet Sematary - Stephen King

 

My Stephen King read-through continues with another cracker, and another one that was utterly new to me. This is one of those books that spends literally the first 90% setting up the last 10%, and as is often the case with King, the setup is brilliant, the ending much less so. But if I was going to let underwhelming endings put me off his books I'd have stopped reading them years ago, and as ever the real quality here is in all the non-supernatural stuff, especially the characters, their relationships, and their dialogue, which he always nails. It seems wrong to say I enjoyed reading a book with such a harrowing story (and the passage describing the terrible central incident is just devastating) so perhaps I should say I felt all the emotions the author intended and appreciated the skill with which he pushed those buttons in my brain.

 

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)

12: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron  - Alexander Freed

13: Christine - Stephen King

14: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Rae Carson

15: Star Wars: Rogues and Rebels - Greg Pak & Phil Noto (graphic novel)

16. Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

18. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

19. Third World War: Book 1 - Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra (graphic novel)

20. Pet Sematary - Stephen King

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of 2020's books for me.

 

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas - Adam Kay

It's (slightly) more of the same (being more of The Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor).  But this is a wafer thin pocket book, rather than a fully fledged book.  Whereas that book felt genuinely enlightening, and upsetting, about the life of a Doctor, this really is the stuff that ended up on the editing room floor.  It's .. fine.  But the other book was essential.  This really isn't.

 

Gotta Get Theroux This - Louis Theroux

His autobiography - with an understandable, but a bit distracting, focus on the documentary he made about Jimmy Saville.  I like Louis generally, and it's easy to read this book in his voice, and imagine he's there with you.  You don't learn loads about L.T. biographically, but focuses more on the making of his programmes.  Fine for what it is.

 

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

I first read this book about 30 years ago, but re-reading now I realised how funny it is, and how satirical and relevant it feels - not just with the society that is motivated by drugs and meaningless sex - and being predestined to be happy with their lot - but also on the focus on rampant consumerism.  No new sports are encouraged without consideration of will they make people spend more, etc.  It's interesting to read this 90 years after it was written and see how prescient it feels.

 

Overland - Graham Rawle

The best novel I've read in ages.  Presented in an interesting landscape format, with pages at the 'top' being Overland - an idyllic fake town build to hide 'Underland' (which is written on the lower pages) - the Lockheed factory in Burbank, California in 1942.  (This really happened).  We're presented with four characters, meticulously woven into a funny, sad, uplifting and shocking book with beautiful writing.  George designed the fake world 'Overland', Jimmy works in the factory below, Queenie is a starlet dreaming of success in Hollywood, and Kay is an American being persecuted for her Japanese heritage after Pearl Harbour.  Their lives and that of 'Overland' all are tied together this beautiful novel.  I can't recommend it enough.  (Get the physical copy, rather than ebook though, I'd say - as the two worlds are separated by typefaces alone in the ebook - and the physical copy's layout adds a giddying dimension to the novel).

 

Three Body Problem -  Liu Cixin

Proper Sci-Fi - but in part set in China against the 'cultural revolution' of the late 1960s.  The 'sci' of the sci-fi is hard (as in hard sci-fi, that plays up the science).  I really enjoyed this novel, in part through the interesting questions it raises about 'what if', but also how real it all sounded in the believable characters and the culturally interesting setting.  I really appreciated the 'cast' of characters' listed at the start, that I occasionally had to refer back to - more books should have this.  I don't want to spoil the plot, but I had this on a recommendation to me based upon my physics degree I think, but my enjoyment came from the characters and setting - and I don't think that a knowledge of anything specialised is required.  It's all set on earth, and everything is well explained.  I'm definitely intending to read the two sequels in this trilogy, so that speaks for itself (and not just because of the slight cliffhanger ending).

 

House Of Leaves - Mark Z Danielewski

I'd never read this, but had it sitting on my shelf for years.  It's an amazing book, and I want lots of people I know to read it so I can discuss it with them!  It might be a massive prank of a novel - with no 'solution', but it's certainly one that leaves you questioning what is 'real' in the story you've read.  It might be a horror book.  Or perhaps a romance.  Or a mystery.  But it is multilayered - does fascinating experimental things with layout and typefaces - and has three 'layers' (at least).  Presented as a book put together by a hedonistic unreliable narrator, who has gathered together the writings of a blind old man, who has been writing about a documentary film he has watched and has been researching.  With more footnotes that you can possibly imagine.  The documentary concerns a house which doesn't seem to obey the laws of physics, and the blind man has been researching and philosophising on this.  The compiler has his own problems, and finds the blind man's writings sending him further and further off the rails.  And there are appendices.  And 'editors' notes.  And an index.  And you know 'something' isn't right about what you're reading.  Somethings don't add up.  Or do.  I understand why people have tried to pick this book apart and write on forums theorising who 'really' wrote it.  

 

And these ones I read as I joined a 'reading group' during lockdown to read then discuss books.   None of these were my picks.

 

Before The Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Kawaguchi

An intriguing premise - but stretched paper thin, and a written in a form that betrays its origins as a (one room) stageplay I thought.  An arbitrary set of rules that allow limited time travel in a cafe, back to that cafe at an earlier time.  I don't think I've ever read a translated book where the translator felt so audible and artless.  Having looked up the translator, his pervious work appears to be solely in textbooks and instruction manual translation, and the writing here is so matter-of-fact it beggars belief.  No effort is made to translate the pun-ny Japanese names of the characters - and cultural norms like Family Name, Given Name convention are inconsistently used.  On the story itself, the 'four act' plotting of the story is very repetitive by the end - which is a shame in such a short book.  It *does* ask some interesting questions, and at least one of the four stories is likely to emotionally resonate.  But it isn't as good or important as it'd like to be I'm afraid.

 

One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M McManus

Crap.  It just about kept me reading to find out 'who did it'.  The author takes the character tropes from the Breakfast Club and puts them in a 'one room' murder mystery (detention) where they are all suspects.  But unlike Agatha Christie one of the key bits of evidence is kept from the reader.  When the character reveals the 'inconsistency' they'd noticed I went back and checked - the reader had never had that shown to them, so despite feeling like a 'whodunnit' it really isn't.  The author also writes each paragraph/chapter from a different suspects point of view - which would have been better if they had any unique 'voice' to them, but they all sound identical.  Crap.  I might have enjoyed it if I was 14.  Might.

 

You Me Everything - Catherine Isaac

Richard & Judy book club choice, apparently.  Hmm.  It's actually pretty well written, passably entertaining throughout but leans of cliched characters a lot.  It's an entertaining enough chic-flick of a book, but hit home rather harder with me than I'd imagined it would have, thanks to the main character going through the pain of watching her mother die through a neurological disease.  I watched my own dad do this a couple of months ago, so I found it very resonating and upsetting - but mileage may vary on that score.

 

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

I may be pissing on other people's favourite book here, but I only found this only okay.  It felt like the three distinct sections (Childhood in Kabul, America, Return to Afghanistan) were quite different.  The nostalgic first section was likeable enough and felt like a dreamy travelogue through idyllic lands, America was slightly 'culture clash' comedy but also a bit boring, and the last section was Action! Adventure! Heroics! Explosions! Guns! Fights!  The overcooked demonisation of the Taliban - making their local head being a sociopathic sadistic paedophile  neo-nazi who vocally supported Hitler - was a bit over-the-top I thought.  Yes, I get it, ... you're making them the baddies - they don't have to be cartoon evil villain.  It was pacy though, and easy to read.  I've not seen the film to compare, and this didn't make me want to watch it.

 

 

 

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


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

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

I first read this book about 30 years ago, but re-reading now I realised how funny it is, and how satirical and relevant it feels - not just with the society that is motivated by drugs and meaningless sex - and being predestined to be happy with their lot - but also on the focus on rampant consumerism.  No new sports are encouraged without consideration of will they make people spend more, etc.  It's interesting to read this 90 years after it was written and see how prescient it feels.

 

Three Body Problem -  Liu Cixin

Proper Sci-Fi - but in part set in China against the 'cultural revolution' of the late 1960s.  The 'sci' of the sci-fi is hard (as in hard sci-fi, that plays up the science).  I really enjoyed this novel, in part through the interesting questions it raises about 'what if', but also how real it all sounded in the believable characters and the culturally interesting setting.  I really appreciated the 'cast' of characters' listed at the start, that I occasionally had to refer back to - more books should have this.  I don't want to spoil the plot, but I had this on a recommendation to me based upon my physics degree I think, but my enjoyment came from the characters and setting - and I don't think that a knowledge of anything specialised is required.  It's all set on earth, and everything is well explained.  I'm definitely intending to read the two sequels in this trilogy, so that speaks for itself (and not just because of the slight cliffhanger ending).

 

I've not read Brave New World since I was a teenager but I've been meaning to for ages. I will rectify this soon I think.

 

My recommendation on Three Body is, don't wait to read the next two books. I left gaps between them (especially between the first two) and found I was quite confused at times about who was who and what they'd done in the previous books. So dive in in ASAP! They're all brilliant too, you're in for a treat.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Darren said:

 

I've not read Brave New World since I was a teenager but I've been meaning to for ages. I will rectify this soon I think.

 

My recommendation on Three Body is, don't wait to read the next two books. I left a gaps between them (especially between the first two) and found I was quite confused at times about who was who and what they'd done in the previous books. So dive in in ASAP! They're all brilliant too, you're in for a treat.


I completely agree with this. The series just gets better and better in my opinion - look forward to hearing what you think of them @uglifruit

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

41. The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson. I wanted to read some more Ronson, and this sounded like a good topic, but I didn't realise it was so short then I bought it - it's basically a long article. It was enjoyable enough, and it was fascinating to learn that Alex Jones was one of the guys Ronson traveled with in Them, but otherwise many of the stories of Trump's accomplices are already pretty well documented, so not too much new here.

 

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

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

41. The Elephant in the Room

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

21. A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C. A. Fletcher

I struggled with this for the first half of the book and thought it meandered and was inconsistent in parts. To the point where I thought maybe this book resonates more if you've ever had that close bond with a dog. I'm a cat person, so maybe I'm to blame. Anyway, second half was much more interesting and engaging and whilst there was a fairly abrupt denouement, the last 50 pages or so were excellent. I can't stand it when books have nonsensical twists which serve very little purpose other than for publishers to blather on about "YOU WON"T BELIEVE THE TWISTS. UNBELIEVABLE, JEFF." However,  a number of things happen in those last 50 or so pages that fully reward any grievances you may have with the rest of the book. It was the antithesis of The Girl With The Gifts, which had a really promising start and then shat the bed. 

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

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp

20. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

21. A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C. A. Fletcher

 

 

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.