Saturday, 12 December 2009

Books of 2009 - Part 1

As regular readers will know, one of the things I enjoy most is getting stuck into a good book. I try to make sure I read everyday, although on occasion the habit slips. I'm currently on my 20th book this year - more than last year, but less than I'd aimed for.

As it's approaching the end of the year, this is the first in a series of posts with two line reviews of the books I've read.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett - Previously ambivalent about Bennett, I really enjoyed Untold Stories. The Uncommon Reader is an extended short story about the Queen developing a reading habit when she discovers the mobile library for the Palace staff. While inoffensive and enjoyable enough, this ultimately lacked any substance.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - Written when he was a Senator, this book covers a number of major issues in American politics. Obama writes with a clear and direct style, a refreshing understanding of American political history and context and most importantly a recognition that view issues are as black and white as a two-party system often portrays them as.

Lyttelton's Britain by Iain Pattinson - The late Humphrey Lyttelton chaired Radio 4's I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue for over 40 years. Latterly, the opening monologues in which Humph outlined the history and attractions of the host venues became one of the trademarks of the show. This book collects these monologues (essentially a series of one-liners) together and is a fantastic light read which I shall be dipping in and out of for years to come.

The God of Small Things by Arundati Roy - A fantastic and worthy winner of the Booker Prize. A family saga set in India, it is beautifully written with almost poetic qualities. This beauty does not get in the way of what is a intriguing story in the way that some literature can. Roy evokes the culture and atmosphere superbly and I'm sure I'll get more out of this book on repeat reading.

The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams - Having read this previously, I enjoyed re-visiting it for the first time in a few years. The Salmon of Doubt was one of the titles given to the Dirk Gently novel Adams was working on when he died. This book brings together some of the completed chapters of that along with various magazine articles, lectures and interviews.

A Most Wanted Man - John le Carre - I've wanted to read a le Carre for years and never quite got round to it. I received this, his latest novel as a Christmas present, so was keen to see what I thought. A political/security services thriller, it didn't set the heather alight for me. I do still want to try an early Le Carre, though!

So, that's the first 6 - another instalment soon!


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