Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2009 in Books

This year I'm splitting my reading list up into three parts to get maximum blog mileage out of it. Today, I give you fiction

The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's Tale, Robert Louis Stevenson
I'm reading this at the moment in preparation for a conference on Jacobitism. I know absolutely nothing about Jacobitism.

The Secret Mandarin, Sara Sheridan, 2009
I skim read this book. I didn't feel it deserved more.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 2009
A great novel about the humiliations endured and victories won by black servants in the American south.

Temptation Douglas Kennedy, 2007
One of his less interesting novels. The characters all needed a good slap.

The Careful Use of Compliments (Sunday Philosophy Club), Alexander McCall Smith, 2008
I really don't like McCall Smith any more. He's more smug and less avuncular now, I feel.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Mary Ann Shaffer, 2009
Excellent story of a book club in the Channel Islands during WWII

When Will There be Good News? Kate Atkinson, 2009
Ms Mac sent me this one and I enjoyed it just as much as the last two. About lives that fit into and around each other. Read Ms Mac's take on it here.

Electric Brae: A Modern Romance Andrew Greig, 1998
I'm not sure why it took me so long to get round to reading this. About the sometimes tortured relationships of a young man in Scotland.

Deaf Sentence, David Lodge, 2009
Funny, but also acutely observant (what is the auditory equivalent of observant?) and recognizable if you are — or if you interact with anyone who is —hard of hearing.

The Red Book, Delahunt, Meaghan, 2009
Excellent - somehow manages to knit together Bhopal and Cowdenbeath. Chapters begin with a description of a photograph - a flagging but effective device.

Dreams of Rivers and Seas Tim Parks, 2009
One of my favourite novelists Tim Parks. I'm always surprised by how completely different each of his books is.

The Neon Rain, James Lee Burke, 2000
Read this during the summer holiday, and that's all I can remember about it.

The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, 2003
I've enjoyed all of Kureishi's writing until now, but I gave up on this one early on.

The Man Who Walks, Alan Warner, 2007
Best novel I read this year. Takes place in Highland Scotland. A modern version of Kidnapped in parts.

Bruno, Chief of Police, Martin Walker, 2009
Bruno is a policeman in the Dordogne and he likes rugby. Not bad. That's about it.

The Rain Before it Falls, Jonathan Coe, 2008
This one also uses the photograph device. Enjoyable.

A Million Little Pieces, James Frey, 2004
You may remember the controversy that surrounded this book when it was revealed that it wasn't actually a memoir but mostly fiction. I thought the writing was good anyway.

We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates, 1996
A family saga set in a time before sexual liberation for which the main character pays the price. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The Gathering, Anne Enright, 2007
I thought I might not like this because I don't always agree with Enright's non-fiction writing. But I found it exquisite, in all senses of the word.

A Most Wanted Man John le Carré, 2008
Le Carré, dependable as ever.

Rounding the Mark, Andrea Camilleri, 2008
My annual fix of Montalbano intrigue and descriptions of Sicilian cooking

1 comment:

nmj said...

I had to persevere with The Gathering, though she writes brilliantly, no doubt. A wee while since I read it, but I just didn't care much for any of the characters, and I couldn't keep up with the siblings, who was who. In fact I was almost relieved at the end, I didn't need to read any more about the Hegarties! But the sheer quality of the prose keeps you going.

Think I will get the Guernsey Potato Peel book for my mum, have read many good things about it.

The Red Book sounds intriguing.