Monday, December 15, 2008

A Year of Reading

Here is the annual list of books wot I have read. I've been good at adding books to LibraryThing as I read them, so if you've been an attentive reader you'll have noticed all of these appearing in the sidebar. As usual, the ones I loved are the top, those I didn't are at the bottom and the middling ones are in the ... middle. I'm not providing links this year since due to the recession and because I know you're just as capable of googling as I am.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy (pure desolate brilliance)
Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, Nigel Slater (funny, sad and satisfying)
Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D.H.Lawrence, Geoff Dyer (alternative auto/biography)
A Lie about My Father, John Burnside (a (mostly) bad man)
Fall on Your Knees, Anne Marie MacDonald (vast story set in provinical Canda and another bad father)
Fascination, William Boyd (16 brilllant short stories. Boyd is a master of all things fiction)
Skating To Antarctica, Jenny Diski (memoir and travelogue)
The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald (childhood Canadian detective fiction)
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O'Farrell (Scottish story of old age and deception)
Crow Lake, Mary Lawson (I seemed to read a lot of Canadian fiction this year and this was another good one)
The Other Side of the Bridge, Mary Lawson (provincial Canada ....again)
Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens, Sofka Zinovieff (one of the best "living abroad" books I've read, recommended by Mike of Fevered Mutterings)
The Accidental, Ali Smith (I loved some of the wordy riffs in this book)
Paris Trance, Geoff Dyer (I'm glad I discovered Geoff Dyer this year)
Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered, Geoff Dyer
Stuart: A Life Backwards, Alexander Masters (homeless but not completely hopeless)
The Smoking Diaries, Simon Gray (He died just after I read this)
I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, Bill Bryson (he still makes me laugh)
The Patience of the Spider, Andrea Camilleri (I read about one of these Inspector Montalbano a year - for the Italian food rather than the intrigue)
Quartier lointain : L'intégrale, Jirô Taniguchi (this graphic novel was a present and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it)
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Steven D. Levitt (poponomics)
Saint Maybe, Anne Tyler (one from the back catalogue, as reliable and comforting as ever)
Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe, Nicholas Crane (he walks from Cape Finisterre to Istanbul, with just his two legs!)
The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro (Another Candaina one. Short, sometimes autobiographical, pieces about the past)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards (twisty)
Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace (I'd like to rad more DFW)
Rosengarten, Janice Galloway (a quirky exhibition tie-in about midwifery)
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan (not his best IMHO)
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton (bits and pieces of non-fiction)
Michael Tolliver Lives, Armistead Maupin (old friends)
Memoirs of a Highland Lady, Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus (I’m still dipping into this 19th C diary)
The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett (mildly amusing)
The Sea, John Banville (I think I liked this, but I can't remember very much about it)
The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, Shauna Reid (gaun yersel Shona)
Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones (good if you love Dickens. I don't think I love him enough)
Echo Park, Michael Connelly (beach reading)
Arlington Park: A Novel, Rachel Cusk (mildly depressing novel about women in London suburbia)
The Missing, Thomas Eidson (the film is good too)
The Cone-Gatherers, Robin Jenkins (I thought I was going to like Robin Jenkins, but I didn't)
The Pearl-fishers, Robin Jenkins
Something to Declare, Julian Barnes (only for Flaubertophiles)
The Pilot's Wife, Anita Shreve (I think that this might have been the second time I had read this novel, but it didn't make much of a mark the first time)
Chasing Mammon: Travels in the Pursuit of Money, Douglas Kennedy ( a little dated now)
Sorbonne Confidential, Laurel Zuckerman (cf. last post)
Blood, Sweat and Tea: Real Life Adventures in an Inner-city Ambulance, Tom Reynolds (read the blog, shouldn't have bought the book)
Petite Anglaise, Catherine Sanderson (ditto)
Bananas in Bordeaux: Self-sufficiency for Dreamers, Louise Franklin (a blog that wasn't)
Burning Bright, Tracy Chevalier (I've enjoyed some of Chevalier's other novels but I never got to the end of this one)
Longitude, Dava Sobel (I like popular science but I just couldn't get into this)
Treasure Islands: Sailing the South Seas in the Wake of Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pamela Stephenson Connolly (some people have too much money)

The vast majority of these books were provided by Bookmooch and most of the rest by my Mum - thank you both!


Ms Mac said...

Craig got half way through that Stuart A Life Backwards book and was quite impressed with it but then he put it down and never picked it back up again.

I watched the tv adaptation and thought it was rather good. I'm not keen on these depressive tales of abuse though.

Lesley said...

Ms Mac : Actually as I was writing this list up, I realised just how many of them were about something tragic that had happened in a person's childhood and had an effect (usually negative) on their life afterwards. I certainly can't identify with that so I wonder why I am drawn to novels of that sort.

materfamilias said...

Nice to see our CanLit figuring rather large (relatively speaking) on your list. I see some overlaps in our reading, but there are some appealing new titles here as well. And you do get through quite a bit, don't you!

Frankofile said...

Do you have an inventory on bookmooch and how can I find you?? (My inventory is down to 3 - I'll load up again when I can plan for posting out). I'm CathyS on bookmooch.

deborah said...

I love lists of books that have been read, so thanks Lesley.

Have just finished Stranger on a train by Jenny Diski, I found it marvellous. Another Canada link, picked up in Ottawa via my brother and a friend of a friend ...

Lesley said...

Frankofile: Lesley G.. Mooch away!

Lesley said...

Deborah : "Stranger on a Train" was on last year's list.

Le laquet said...

I loved Nigel Slater's book but it made me cry - bit of a wimp to be honest!

Shauna said...

Wow I am dazzled by your list and determined to read like a mofo in 2009! Thanks for including my bit of fluff in your travels :)

Veronica said...

ooer. I found your blog via Chez Loulou and found it quite strange that you'd reald both those A-M Macdonald books, given they are not recent publications. I read "Fall on your knees" (bookmooched) in 2008 too, and "The way the crow flies" the previous year. I had to read some of "Fall on your knees" from behind the couch, as it were -- parts were almost unbearable.

We have quite a few other books in common too! Part of my library here: