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What books did you read in 2022?


Jamie John
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New year, new thread. This is a place to keep track of the books you've read in 2022, to post your comments, reviews and recommendations.

 

You may also want to set yourself a target for the number of books you want to read this year, either with or without using the Goodreads Reading Challenge.

 

I only managed 15 books in 2021, which is pretty poor. I want to read more this year and have set a target of 24 books, so two per month, which should be entirely doable. I've deleted Instagram from my phone and am going to read using the Kindle app more when I'm bored or killing time, instead of endlessly scrolling through shite. I've also stopped reading Edge magazine, not because I dislike it, but because I found reading it was eating into the little time I put aside for reading too much. I've got a three month Audible trial as well, so I'm going to see how that goes, but if I find myself using it enough then I'll stick with it. Finally, I'm going to try not to buy any more Kindle books this year; I've got about 50 to get through as it is.

 

Anyway, best of luck to everyone with their reading challenges! I'm currently reading: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (for about the fourth time). Just as good as ever :). I'm also listening to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, read by Elizabeth Moss, which I've also read twice before, but I want to remind myself of events before I get round to reading the sequel, which has been on my shelf for yonks.

 

What are you reading and what books did you read in 2022, rllmuk?

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I loved The Testaments. Listened on Audible, read by Ann Dowd - brilliant.

 

I'm setting a target of 36 this year, which is lower than I usually do, but I am determined to get through a bunch of the really long books on my Kindle and Audible. I think I'm also going to re-read The Count of Monte Cristo as it's been a few years since the last time.

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My target is the same as last year - 40 books. First book down and I can't recommend it. 

 

1. How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie. Protagonist wants to kill their family for a reason that millions endure. Some killing occurs. Wholly unlikeable main character. Some genuinely dumb chapters with characters doing dopey things. Fair few plot holes. Absolutely shits the bed with the ending. No idea why I was bought this for Xmas. Think this has done well on the back of the author's mates in the media. It is not a good book. 

 

Set your bar low early on and the rest of the year can only be better. 

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The Lincoln highway by Amor Towles.  This has won lots of awards and seems to be in the book of the year lists of nearly everyone but I struggled to get through it at times. It's well written of course but quite convoluted and very long.

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A Fortunate Life- A.B Facey

 

This is Facey's autobiography  and there's a number of streets names after him and  one of his sons, who died in WW2, around the northern suburbs in Perth. Born in 1894 it's basically the story of a pretty remarkable man who lived and worked in rural WA at the turn of the 20th century, fought at Gallipoli and was heavily involved in the Unions fighting with the Conservative  government for better conditions or workers after the war.   I loved it  and thought it was a wonderful snapshot of life in the early 20th century but it was on the secondary school curriculum so I'm sure there's a generation or two of West  Australians  who think it's a load of boring old shite about some bloke that they'll never read again.

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Leviathan Wakes- James SA Corey

 

Reread this as I'm planning on doing the whole series this year and the Expanse is coming to an end on "de telly" soon. I've reviewed it before I think, it's got lowest common denominator  space opera type stuff  going on but it's brilliantly executed and worth a read . Also picked up "The Praxis" , 1st part of the Dread Empires Fall series as it's name checked in the notes. I'll have to break these space operas up with a few palette cleansers  during the year I think.Previously:

Spoiler

1.A Fortunate Life- A.B Facey

 

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Harlem shuffle by Colson Whitehead. An early 60s look at New York and the ups and downs of a part crooked, part upstanding furniture store owner. It's less consequential than the Underground railroad and Nickel boys but still very enjoyable and of course he can't write badly.

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2. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. Part Jurassic Park, part Men in Black. Via an access point to an alternate dimension, mankind has discovered kaiju running freely. Machinations and skulduggery ensues. It’s a fairly light piece of sci-fi, rattles along at a decent pace and is interesting enough without being particularly original. The author explains as much in the afterword. 

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I only managed seven books last year, for which I blame Game Pass for hoovering up all my idea moments. So I'll be happy just to clear that low bar this year!

 

1. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

 

I've read all of Iain M's Culture novels but this is the first of his non-sci-fi books I've tried, and I loved it. In some ways this felt like the prototype (or maybe archetype) for many of the Culture books in the way it tells its story: starting in the middle knowing full well that the reader hasn't got a clue what's going on or what half the terminology is referring to, then gradually filling in the gaps leading to a climax that seems to be going one way until the final vital revelation puts everything in a new light. He certainly hit the ground running.

 

Spoiler

1. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

2. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters: Companion (graphic novel)

 

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This Is Going To Hurt - Adam Kay

 

A memoir of a junior doctor in the NHS. Taken from his diary, so essentially a series of anecdotes in chronological order, from his qualification and initial postings, through his years of (over)work as a obstetrics and gynecology surgeon, to his eventual resignation. Kay has a great writing style, clear and to the point with a sense of humour both sharp and dry. Many of his stories are very funny, proper belly laughs from me. Insertions of foreign objects into bodily orifices are usually good for a chuckle. Some stories are wince-inducingly painful. The one about the 

Spoiler

degloving

will stay with me forever. Fucking ouch. A couple of them are absolutely tragic. I teared up reading them and had to stop and do something else for a bit to take my mind off them. The overall feeling at the end though is anger at what the governments of the last forty years have done to the NHS, the crowning achievement of postwar Britain, cutting budgets and cutting services and cutting staff, all for the purpose of making a bit of wedge. Fucking vandals.

 

I know it's such a cliche to say that it'll make you laugh and it'll make you cry, but in the case of this book it's true.

 

Absolutely brilliant. Essential reading.

 

 

Should We Stay Or Should We Go? - Lionel Shriver

 

Ugh. I've never read anything by her before, and after this, I won't bother reading anything else. It's an interesting enough conceit: a middle aged married couple make a pact with each other that they will both commit suicide when they're 80, so as not to cause an unnecessary strain on society. Why should the NHS spend money keeping a couple of unproductive old codgers alive, blocking beds from being used by younger people who may need them? That's the set up, then each chapter is an alternative scenario on how their plan actually plays out. 

 

They start off pretty humdrum but get more outlandish as the book goes along. In and of itself this isn't a bad thing. A good writer could do well with this idea. But Shriver is not a good writer. Her prose is pretty lumpen. Functional but unmemorable. Even though I read the whole book in the last two days, the only passage of prose that even vaguely sticks in my mind is a bit about how they kissed and the force of the kiss resonated through the entirety of their married lives, something something something like a drum. And the only reason it does stick in my mind is that the exact same passage is used in like five or six of the twelve chapters. And her dialogue is fucking godawful. The two main characters just do not speak like human beings, they speak like newspaper columns on whatever topic Shriver feels like banging on about.

 

Has she always been an awful right wing ghoul? Because the overall tone of this book is Daily Mail as fuck. One of the main characters is a socialist, frequently espousing pro-NHS, pro-EU, pro-taxation, anti-Tory views, but when he nears death and is really honest with how he really feels deep down, he never really believed in socialism, he just claimed to to gain moral standing. There isn't an 🙄 emoji big enough. 

 

She also puts in quite a lot of "it turns out Brexit was fine, actually" in her projections into the future. And there is fucking loads of "the covid lockdowns were an unnecessary fuss over nothing." I haven't looked this up but I bet she's an anti-masker. But the crowning turd on the shit heap is the astonishingly racist chapter where Britain ends up being "swamped" by millions of ""asylum seekers"" (double quote marks there because I'm quoting her quote marks) who all have brown skin and no speekee da English good, and overburden the economy to the point of complete societal collapse. Oh, and some of the ""asylum seekers"" team up with Extinction Rebellion to form an anarchist terrorist group who go round blowing up the houses of parliament and destroying works of art and demolishing museums and whatever else Shriver thinks lefties hate. It's so fucking on the nose about what a Daily Mail reader's worst nightmares of the future would be that at first I took it to be parody. But then I looked it up and no, Shriver is in fact just completely anti-immigration. 

 

She's a shit person and a shit writer. Avoid this utter garbage.

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1/24. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

 

91zAe4EXmjL.thumb.jpg.afa695598745347762cf3197907fb40f.jpg

 

First book of the year done and it's actually three books in one! (But I'll be good and just count it as one.) Anyway, this is about my fourth time reading through these. They're just wonderful, wonderful novels that I'll love forever. Stories about children that aren't really children's stories. The description of 

Spoiler

The World of the Dead

in The Amber Spyglass, in particular, is brilliantly evocative, and I must admit to getting a bit choked up at the end, despite knowing what was coming.

 

Fantastic.

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On 13/01/2022 at 00:45, dug said:

Should We Stay Or Should We Go? - Lionel Shriver

 

Ugh. I've never read anything by her before, and after this, I won't bother reading anything else. It's an interesting enough conceit: a middle aged married couple make a pact with each other that they will both commit suicide when they're 80, so as not to cause an unnecessary strain on society. Why should the NHS spend money keeping a couple of unproductive old codgers alive, blocking beds from being used by younger people who may need them? That's the set up, then each chapter is an alternative scenario on how their plan actually plays out. 

 

They start off pretty humdrum but get more outlandish as the book goes along. In and of itself this isn't a bad thing. A good writer could do well with this idea. But Shriver is not a good writer. Her prose is pretty lumpen. Functional but unmemorable. Even though I read the whole book in the last two days, the only passage of prose that even vaguely sticks in my mind is a bit about how they kissed and the force of the kiss resonated through the entirety of their married lives, something something something like a drum. And the only reason it does stick in my mind is that the exact same passage is used in like five or six of the twelve chapters. And her dialogue is fucking godawful. The two main characters just do not speak like human beings, they speak like newspaper columns on whatever topic Shriver feels like banging on about.

 

Has she always been an awful right wing ghoul? Because the overall tone of this book is Daily Mail as fuck. One of the main characters is a socialist, frequently espousing pro-NHS, pro-EU, pro-taxation, anti-Tory views, but when he nears death and is really honest with how he really feels deep down, he never really believed in socialism, he just claimed to to gain moral standing. There isn't an 🙄 emoji big enough. 

 

She also puts in quite a lot of "it turns out Brexit was fine, actually" in her projections into the future. And there is fucking loads of "the covid lockdowns were an unnecessary fuss over nothing." I haven't looked this up but I bet she's an anti-masker. But the crowning turd on the shit heap is the astonishingly racist chapter where Britain ends up being "swamped" by millions of ""asylum seekers"" (double quote marks there because I'm quoting her quote marks) who all have brown skin and no speekee da English good, and overburden the economy to the point of complete societal collapse. Oh, and some of the ""asylum seekers"" team up with Extinction Rebellion to form an anarchist terrorist group who go round blowing up the houses of parliament and destroying works of art and demolishing museums and whatever else Shriver thinks lefties hate. It's so fucking on the nose about what a Daily Mail reader's worst nightmares of the future would be that at first I took it to be parody. But then I looked it up and no, Shriver is in fact just completely anti-immigration. 

 

She's a shit person and a shit writer. Avoid this utter garbage.


Yep, Shriver is just a disgusting person. She’s someone they invite onto Question Time when none of the British guests can be trusted to say racism doesn’t exist anymore, and Boris Johnson is just about the bants.

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3. Caliban's War- James SA Corey

Part 2 of " the Expanse"  , covers season 2- 3 of the series with some aspects of the 1st book thrown in to the TV series. Book introduces a few characters including Avasarala who is hands down the best thing in it by a light year.The show changed a few plot sequences up  which don't  detract from the show but I felt were executed better in the book, conversely some of the characterisation in the show feel better  for the minor characters.Still a cracking read.

Previously:

Spoiler

1.A Fortunate Life- AB Facey

2. Levithan Wakes-  James SA Corey

 

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The man who died twice by RIchard Osman.  As I’m sure everyone knows this is the second book focusing on the Thursday murder club , a ragtag collection of older people from Coopers chase retirement village . The first was pretty good but very standard fare , this is a lot better with a more interesting story and some genuine laugh out loud moments. Recommended.

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  • 2 weeks later...

1. Emperor: The Death of Kings by Conn Iggulden

 

Part 2 of Iggulden's Emperor series, chronicling the life of Julius Caesar improves on the impressive first book.  Plenty of action, political machinations and key historical characters bound together with good, page-turning writing.

 

Really enjoying this series - up there with Robert Fabbri's tremendous series on the emperor Vespasian.

 

8/10

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Cloud Cuckoo land by Anthony Doer ..by the author of All the light we cannot see which is a modern classic . This is a sprawling novel in the vein of Cloud atlas , five separate viewpoints with a central theme based around the Ancient Greek story of Cloud cuckoo land by Diogenes . 
This was excellent and I can’t imagine it won’t be in my top three come the years end. It is based in 15th century Istanbul , present day America and on a future spacecraft on its way to populate a new earth . It’s a big book at over 600 pages but I flew through it and I recommend it very highly.

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4. Abaddon's Gate- James S.A Corey

 

This one covers the latter half of Season 3 of the TV series I think and again is fairly decent, if you've seen that you'll know what to expect.  Unless I've missed something there is a fair large bit of stupidity that would rob the final 1/4 of any tension if you think about it

 

Spoiler

Why not try Holden's plan 1st and if that doesn't work try the 2nd one, removes the conflict from the scenario

 

And one character in particular gets short shrift after a certain point  but plays a major role  in the TV series. Regardless , it rips along at a fairly decent pace and robs unashamedly from Vernor Vinge, not even changing the name of the phenomenon .Definitely worth a read though.

 

I've picked up "A small Corner of Hell, Dispatches From Chechnya" by Anna Politkovskaya  again after making it half way through about a year ago, because I want to be depressed . She was murdered by Putin a fair few years ago because she was an outspoken critic of his and  partly because she documented the atrocities carried out in Chechnya.

Previously

Spoiler

1.A Fortunate Life- AB Facey

2. Levithan Wakes-  James SA Corey

3. Calibans War- James SA Corey

 

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2/24. The Power of the Dog, Thomas Savage

 

9781784870621_450x650.jpg.2cb99ec3f10932f1e2fbeba393c7736e.jpg

 

I bought this shortly after watching the Netflix film over Christmas, which is excellent. This is also very good - a moody and brooding psychosexual Western set in 1920s Montana, originally written in 1967 but only reprinted more recently. It's about castrating cattle and repressing urges, and it takes more than a few notes from Of Mice and Men.

 

Recommended if you're looking for a tense and simmering exploration of the male ego, or if you've seen the film and, like me, wanted to explore the characters in greater depth.

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On 08/01/2022 at 16:51, wev said:

Gonna try and keep up with this this year, I'll be writing about some (but not all) of the books I read too.

The Fight - Norman Mailer

 

Yesterday I finished The Witcher: Time of Contempt.

 

This is the third Witcher book I've read, I've not seen the show nor played the games, and, well, I'm not understanding the hype around them. I enjoyed the collection of short stories, but I find Geralt to be kind of dull. I like when we get stories from Dandelions perspective and I thought the chapter with Ciri and the unicorn in this one was quite good, but then it went a bit YA. Nothing wrong with YA, but I feel the tone is a bit all over the place and the writing quality inconsistent overall.

 

I'll be continuing with them as my book club are tackling the whole series.

 

List so far:

Spoiler

The Fight - Norman Mailer

The Witcher: Time of Contempt - Andrzej Sapkowski

 

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5. A small Corner of Hell, Dispatches From Chechnya" by Anna Politkovskaya 

 

Well that was depressing, but interesting reading. As mentioned previously it's dispatches from the 2nd Chechen war.

 

Previously:

Spoiler

1.A Fortunate Life- AB Facey

2. Levithan Wakes-  James SA Corey

3. Calibans War- James SA Corey

4. Abaddons gate - James SA Corey

 

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Only up to 1 so far (although half way through a couple of others.  I can't recommend John Higgs' William Blake vs The World highly enough.  Not only does he explain the weird mythology in Blake's work in a way that makes it approachable (I might even attempt reading some of his later, dense, illuminated books now), it's also a wide ranging overview of Blake's relationship to the modern world, which seems to have caught up with some of his mysticism.  It's also incredibly inspiring.

 

 

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Read some crackers in January...

 

6. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Brilliant follow-up to Wolf Hall. I've immediately moved on to the monster final book in the trilogy. Mantel is such a great writer, and Cromwell a fantastic character. I'm loving it.

 

5. The New Climate War by Michael E Mann. I think this is the best book I've read on the topic - fascinating insight into the tactics of climate inactivists, and it actually left me with some hope (indeed, the author goes to great lengths to explain why climate 'doomism' is actually a) misplaced and b) counterproductive). This also overlapped in some interesting ways with the excellent Dark Money by Jane Mayer.

 

4. Death's End by Cixin Liu. Final book in the Three Body Problem trilogy. I've posted on this elsewhere, but to repeat: all three books were excellent, but for me The Dark Forest was the pick.

 

3. The Children of Men by PD James. Seen the film years ago, but couldn't remember anything about it. I really enjoyed this.

 

2. Neuromancer by William Gibson. I've never read anything remotely like this, and to be honest I found the first half frequently confusing. I kind of felt like I needed to have read some other books in the genre to give me the right grounding to absorb it - or else just maybe have read it when I was 20 years younger! I know it's revered on here, so I think it's one I will revisit to enjoy properly now that I have a better handle on what was actually happening.

 

1. The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness by Suzanne O'Sullivan. An exploriation of psychosomatic disorders and episodes of mass hysteria. I thought this was a brilliant book on a fascinating topic. A great start the year.

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3/24. Batman: The City of Owls, Scott Synder & Greg Capullo

 

91ackeXUcrL.thumb.jpg.5f739aaf6d6fb72965cbd13c95563aca.jpg

 

Do comics count? I'm counting it, anyway. I didn't quite enjoy this as much as the first Court of Owls run: like a lot of superhero comics, I thought the story felt a bit rushed and the arc overall was a bit anticlimactic. The art was still excellent, however, even if I occasionally did struggle to figure out what was happening in some of the action sequences.

 

Would anyone recommend the next volume in the New 52 Batman series? 'Death of the Family' this one's called - it's Snyder and Capullo's take on Joker. I'll probably pick it up.

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On 01/02/2022 at 17:26, Miner Willy said:

2. Neuromancer by William Gibson. I've never read anything remotely like this, and to be honest I found the first half frequently confusing. I kind of felt like I needed to have read some other books in the genre to give me the right grounding to absorb it - or else just maybe have read it when I was 20 years younger! I know it's revered on here, so I think it's one I will revisit to enjoy properly now that I have a better handle on what was actually happening


Does this mean Neuromancer is your first cyberpunk novel? Of course it was arguably the first anyway, so you’re in the position of most readers at the time it was published.

 

I don’t know if I would still call it the greatest SF novel of them all (because probably that’s Schismatrix!), but I would feel confident calling it the greatest SF novel of all time.

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1 hour ago, ZOK said:


Does this mean Neuromancer is your first cyberpunk novel? Of course it was arguably the first anyway, so your in the position of most readers at the time it was published.

 

I don’t know if I would still call it the greatest SF novel of them all (because probably that’s Schismatrix!), but I would feel confident calling it the greatest SF novel of all time.

 

I've read Pattern Recognition and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - I assume they might qualify as cyberpunk (?), but if so then they didn't prepare me for this. The first half made me feel a bit old and out of touch - which I fear I am these days!

 

I'll go back to it - feel I missed out and owe it a second reading.

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40 minutes ago, Miner Willy said:

 

I've read Pattern Recognition and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - I assume they might qualify as cyberpunk (?), but if so then they didn't prepare me for this. The first half made me feel a bit old and out of touch - which I fear I am these days!

 

I'll go back to it - feel I missed out and owe it a second reading.


No, neither of those are cyberpunk. DADOES is beyond any finer categorisation I’d say than just SF, and PR is more about Gibson’s obsession with culture and design.

 

Definitely read it again because it’s worth it, but if you want a primer for Neuromancer read Gibson’s short stories ‘Burning Chrome’ and ‘New Rose Hotel’. Then read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive to get the full whiff.

 

All Gibson is amazing, but he is a bit of a one trick pony…it’s just that the one trick is sublime, and he is the master of it.

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15 minutes ago, ZOK said:


No, neither of those are cyberpunk. DADOES is beyond any finer categorisation I’d say than just SF, and PR is more about Gibson’s obsession with culture and design.

 

Definitely read it again because it’s worth it, but if you want a primer for Neuromancer read Gibson’s short stories ‘Burning Chrome’ and ‘New Rose Hotel’. Then read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive to get the full whiff.

 

All Gibson is amazing, but he is a bit of a one trick pony…it’s just that the one trick is sublime, and he is the master of it.

 

OK, thanks. I will!

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Going to aim for 20 books again, would be 30 but it would need to be a load of very short books. I mean I've read one book in five weeks.

 

01 - Fever Of The Bone by Val McDermid - Standard crime novel that is frankly too long for what it is. Combination of murder mystery and some soapy side plots. I only really enjoy these for Tony Hill who is a very readable character.

 

 

Spoiler

01 - Fever Of The Bone by Val McDermid

 

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Spoiler

1. Emperor: The Death of Kings by Conn Iggulden - 8/10

 

2. Back From The Brink by Paul McGrath

 

This is the best footballing autobiography I have ever read.  I urge anyone who likes football to read it, it's absolutely gripping and a very honest account of the life of a very troubled yet immensely talented player.

 

Paul McGrath is the best defender I've ever seen play live.  He was an absolute collosus, he made the game look so easy and his reading of the game was exceptional.  His battle with alcohol is no secret, but I had absolutely no idea how many other issues he's had to battle through all the way through his life, nor did I ever comprehend the extent of his alcoholism.

 

It's striking just how well loved he is by his family and so many people who have worked and played with him despite his problems, and the amount of times he's let them down over the years.

 

Quite how he managed to play until the age of 37 with his injury problems as well as his personal issues is beyond me - I really can't recommend this enough.

 

9.5/10

 

 

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