Monday, 9 January 2012

Books of 2011

Last year I read 25 books which wasn't bad given that I had a bit of a reading lull for several months around about Spring and early Summer.

As ever I tried to read eclectically and, with the help of the (free) Kindle app for PC and Phone, I was also able to finally read some classics! Here are pics of the covers of all the books read, courtesy of Goodreads:

I try to read one Booker Prize winner a year, in 2011 it was Anne Enright's excellent The Gathering, which I reviewed here. This was followed by the wonderful The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which demonstrates the indomitability of the Human Spirit. Next up was my first Iain M Banks' (as opposed to Iain Banks) novel; the space opera Consider Phlebus. Nigel Slater's book of culinary reminiscences, Eating For England was followed by Charlaine Harris' Living Dead in Dallas, the second of the Southern Vampire Mysteries which are now the basis of Trueblood.

Eoin Colfer's authorised addition to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series was the first disappointing book of the year and I followed this up with Club Dead, another Trueblood book. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is simply fantastic - I'd thoroughly recommend it to children of all ages. A Spot of Bother fails to reach the heights of Mark Haddon's first book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time but was still an enjoyable read. Mrs Fry's Diary was fun enough but possibly stretched the central joke a bit too thinly.

I really loved The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and also enjoyed Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike which gave me a greater insight into team cycling, as well as Lance Armstrong's life. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was the first of the Kindle novels I read and marked the start of me having two books on the go at once (as opposed to my previously monogamous ways. John le Carré's Our Kind of Traitor (which was a gift) was the second Le Carré I've read and another disappointment. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland plugged another gap in my knowledge of classic tales.

I'm sure I read The Jungle Book as a kid (and I love the Disney film too, of course) but it was good to re-read it. A Song of Stone was another re-read, as I gradually work through my Iain Banks books again - and anticipate Stonemouth which I already have on order ahead of its release on the 5th April! Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is remarkable in concept, structure and execution. The Little Prince is a beautiful book and a modern fable whilst The Spy Who Came in from the Cold finally saw me read a good le Carré.

More Holmes followed - I simply love the exquisitely constructed puzzles - and then Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest which is an exquisitely constructed farce. Charlie Higson's second Young Bond novel, Blood Fever, was even better than the first - another one for kids of all ages. The late Douglas Adams' escapades with Mark Cawardine in search of endangered species is by turns funny, touching, infuriating and sad. At the end of the year I finally read some Dickens (A Christmas Carol) and I regret to say that, at the age of 37, it still does little for me.

So that was my 2011 in books. I have lots of unread books waiting for attention this year but, as it's a leap/Olympic year, it's going to be dominated by Tolkien re-reads: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. I also have Stonemouth to look forward to, and have been inspired by BBC Radio 4's Open Book to re-visit The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. I'm currently reading Kenneth William's Diaries and Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.


1 comment:

Raybeard said...

Some interesting stuff here.
I'm envious of you having read 'Diving Bell....' and '....Striped Pyjamas', having seen both films and liked them a lot. Both on the 'Must Read' list.
Never been able to really get into Iain Banks, either with or without 'M', but perhaps haven't allowed the books a fair chance.
Of the others, of course I've read the 'classics' that you include, like you, having read them several times, even if some were many years ago. Also le Carre's 'The Spy Who....' as well as all the Sherlock Holmes. Then there's 'The Little Prince' which I came to via a translation into German from the French. Read it in English since, naturally.
Another major omission for me is not yet having got to Mark Haddon's 'The Dog....' which I'm sure you must have read, as the entire world seems to have encountered it.

I managed 60 books last year (including 7 re-reads), which is a figure rather on the low side for me - but then I'm not working.

Reading offers such pleasures and I'm very pleased when I find that another person values it so much too.