2021

  1. 02/10/2021 - Read: Klara and the Sun Kazuo Ishiguro ★★★★★ 📚 “Never let me go” comes to my mind regularly, wonderful book & film. This is a gentler take on the same territory. Crystal clear storytelling.
  2. 28/09/2021 - Read: The Sea Is Not Made of Water by Adam Nicolson ★★★★☆ 📚 Somewhat about the life in 3 tidal pools the author made. Shoreline nature, history of Argyll, sea & planet. I particularly enjoyed the ecology of the shore, the relationship between limpets, winkles crabs & seaweed.
  3. 11/09/2021 - Read: The Case of the General's Thumb by Andrey Kurkov ★★★★☆ 📚 Ukrainian police and Russian KGB race around in a confusing and occasionally daft plot. The characters as lost as the reader. If you see a backward shooting gun in the first act...
  4. 01/09/2021 - Read: This Is Your Mind On Plants by Michael Pollan 📚 ★★★☆☆ Three chapters, opium, caffeine, and mescaline. The opium one was recycled from some time ago, it would have been interesting to read more about the opiate crisis in modern times in the USA and the drug companies. The coffee chapter was quite fascinating,…
  5. 22/08/2021 - Read Second Place by Rachel Cusk ★★★★☆ 📚 pretty intense narrator who is obsessed with self absorbed artist.
  6. 10/08/2021 - Read: Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby ★★☆☆☆ 📚too much driving and gun fighting for me. I should have read the blurb🤣 I can see some folk loving it, as it is exciting and tight.
  7. 09/08/2021 - Read: Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell ★★★★★ 📚 I enjoyed everything about this, the detail of life at the time and the natural world and the sadness. The idea of Shakespeare as almost a secondary character is solid.
  8. 03/08/2021 - Read The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka ★★★★☆ 📚 told by a ghost or spirt, it covers the lives of two folk, a Brixton boy and Nigerian girl. Both places far from my ken, educating but never dull.
  9. 31/07/2021 - Read: A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin ★★★☆☆ enjoyed this tale of older Rebus.
  10. 27/07/2021 - Read: Music Love Drugs War by Geraldine Quigley ★★★★★ 📚 Beautiful book about a group of youths in 1981 in Derry in the midst of the troubles. Their difficulty in expressing themselves & sharing feelings is heart-wrenching. I raced through this.
  11. 26/07/2021 - All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams ★★★★☆ 📚 Quotes from the actors, writers, producers, directors & others involved. Going through the series in order. I've watched all 5 series several times through and this makes me want to watch it again.
  12. 24/07/2021 - Read: The Gospel of the Eels by Patrik Svensson ★★★★☆ 📚 Great read, a mix of the history of the study & natural history of eels with the author's eel fishing with his father. The list of folk who studied eels runs from Aristotle through Freud to Racel Carson. Includes a bit of recent Swedish…
  13. 23/07/2021 - Read: Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes ★★★★☆ 📚 Multi narrator life story of Clio, Scottish singer & activist. Starts at her end in 2018. Revisiting most of the narrators and scenes revels more & more about all the characters.
  14. 22/07/2021 - Read: The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature by Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst(Translator) ★★★★☆ 📚 New science about trees back up with references mixed with personal rumination and experiences. The good trees do for us and the planet and the bad we do to them. Some really fascinating snippets about…
  15. 21/07/2021 - Read: Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan ★★★☆☆ 📚 A novel Maddox up of short stories over 100 years linked by a Edinburgh tenement. Gothic, ghosts, queer, beat, crime and more. Some seemed to flow for me better than others. Probably best read in fewer sessions than I did.
  16. 04/07/2021 - Read: Pew by Catherine Lacey ★★★★☆ 📚 The main character has little memory and their sex, colour, age and origin are all in doubt. They are discovered in church and meet the locals, good folks to their own thinking, without talking Pew revels them to us. We never find out about Pew and the ending…
  17. 26/06/2021 - Read: Burning Your Own by Glenn Patterson ★★★★☆ 📚 1969, Mal is 10. I’d have been 11. Mal lives in a estate in Northern Ireland. Great, horrible, atmosphere. Football with his pals and building bonfires with civil rights and politics in the background.
  18. 08/06/2021 - Read: Cunning Women: A feminist tale of forbidden love after the witch trials by Elizabeth Lee ★★★☆☆ 📚 I enjoyed this well enough, unlikely plot, felt a bit like a young adult book.
  19. 29/05/2021 - Read: The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig ★★★☆☆ 📚 a take on “Strangers on a Train”. This kept me turning the pages but spelled things out a bit too much. I also guessed what was going on even before the big hint.
  20. 26/05/2021 - Read: August by Callan Wink ★★★☆☆ 📚This was a nice change from the daily introspective books live been reading. August, the main character says little and doesn’t seem to think much. The sensitive silent type. I enjoyed reading about his mum more.
  21. 20/05/2021 - Read: Jo Baker Offcomer ★★★☆☆ 📚 a bit to queasy for me, young woman who is in a bad situation cutting herself with a blade and stupid choices.
  22. 16/05/2021 - I Give It to You by Valerie Martin ★★★★☆ 📚 Set in Italy, mix of World War II history and the story of the story. Echos of The Leopard with the decline of the land owning class. More than one level of betrayal.
  23. 17/04/2021 - Read: so you’ve been shamed by Jon Ronson ★★★★☆ 📚 I think I must have read excerpts of a lot of this over the years since it was published. Still quite interesting although I kept hearing Louis Theroux in my head.
  24. 16/04/2021 - Read: The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway ★★★★☆ 📚 dual timeline kept me turning pages. The Troubles in the 80s and 30 years later
  25. 15/04/2021 - Read: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld ★★★★☆ Fragmented stories of misogyny across time. Quite unsettling in both content and style. 📚
  26. 07/04/2021 - Read: The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey ★★★★☆ a lot of fun with an unusual take on mermaids. 📚
  27. 27/03/2021 - Read: The Margot Affair by Sanaë Lemoine ★★★☆☆ enjoyable quick read. Teenagers pov, secret daughter of a French politician and a famous actress. Suspicious adult friends, trouble.
  28. 20/03/2021 - Read: Barkskins by Annie Proulx ★★★★☆ pretty huge multi generational story of destruction of the North American forests. Side trips to China and New Zealand. 📚
  29. 02/03/2021 - READ: Writers & Lovers by Lily King ★★★☆☆
  30. 14/02/2021 - Read: The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid ★★★☆☆ I enjoyed the Wordsworth, The Mutiny on the Bounty and Lake District background more than the actual plot.
  31. 09/02/2021 - Read: The Beloved Children by Tina Jackson ★★★★☆ engaging tale of theatre & show people. 📚
  32. 24/01/2021 - Read: Summerwater by Sarah Moss ★★★★★ 📚 I love the way you are taken into the character’s heads. Feels very real to me.
  33. 03/01/2021 - Read The Heavens by Sandra Newman ★★★★☆ Time travel in dreams, madness, an unstable 'present', lots of fun. 📚 First book I've finished this year.
2020

  1. 26/12/2020 - Read: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi ★★★★☆The damage parents(mothers in this case) do. There isn’t any redemption or reconciliation as the mother drops into dementia.
  2. 13/12/2020 - Read: Recursion by Blake Crouch ★★★☆☆ enjoyed the morph from crime to sci-fi. A nice page turner, maybe a bit too much recursion😀📚  
  3. 12/12/2020 - Read: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart ★★★★☆ set in my home town powerful stuff. Growing up poor with an alcoholic mother Shuggie didn’t have to look for his troubles, chinks of hope shut down one after the other. ShuggieBain (edition) | Open Library
  4. 27/11/2020 - Read: Pine by Francine Toon ★★★★☆ “Gothic Horror” is well out of my usual reading zone, but I enjoyed the slow introduction of the hopeless father & his daughter in the highlands. 📚
  5. 22/11/2020 - Read: Expectation by Anna Hope ★★★★☆ surprised that this feminist, to an extent, literary fiction kept me reading page turner. 📚
  6. 13/11/2020 - Read: Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor ★★★★☆ lots of fun with the life of Bram Stoker. Told through fragments of notes, letters and memories. Some nice opacity, hints and the odd ghost.
  7. 26/10/2020 - Read: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite ★★★★☆ well that was fun!
  8. 26/10/2020 - Read Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins ★★★☆☆ pretty twisted tale with an increasingly suspect unreliable narrator. Tense & queasy.
  9. 13/10/2020 - Read:  The Odyssey by Homer translated Emily Wilson ★★★★☆ easy to read, put in context a lot of novels based on greek tales I’ve read in the last couple of years.
  10. 13/09/2020 - Read: An Unnecessarily Women by Rabih Alameddine ★★★☆☆ 📚a strange mix of the Beirut setting and literary references dominated the plot.
  11. 22/08/2020 - Read: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt ★★★★★ several unreliable narrators, set in the NY art world beyond my ken. Became an engrossing and affecting read. 📚
  12. 06/08/2020 - Read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto 📚 ★★★★☆ two sad stories of young folk dealling with death.
  13. 06/08/2020 - Read: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 📚 ★★★★☆ enjoyable strange tale.
  14. 31/07/2020 - Read: Kartography by Kamila Shamsie ★★★☆☆ 📚
  15. 22/07/2020 - Read: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I loved the paragraphs, often lacking fullstops and capitals, carried me along. ★★★★★ 📚
  16. 12/07/2020 - Read: The Little House by Kyōko Nakajima, trans: Ginny Tapley Takemori ★★★★★ beautiful story, delicious food. Glimpse into social and domestic life in Japan before & during WW2 📚
  17. 07/07/2020 - Read: The Seduction by Joanna Briscoe – Queasily page turning. ★★★☆☆ 📚
  18. 26/06/2020 - Read: A God in Every Stone - Kamila Shamsie ★★★★☆ page turner, interesting history of WW1 & the Qissa Khwani massacre in Peshawar 📚
  19. 26/06/2020 - Read: Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown ★★★☆☆ 📚 99 witty chapters. Some laugh out loud.
  20. 26/06/2020 - Read: Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★☆ lot of darkness with light at the end. 📚
  21. 14/06/2020 - Read: Redhead by the side of the road by Anne Tyler ★★★★☆  📚
  22. 13/06/2020 - Read: The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald ★★★☆☆ Enjoyed revisiting my teenage library. 📚
  23. 13/06/2020 - Read: Old Baggage by Alissa Evans ★★★★☆ Comic novel about Suffragette in the 20s & 30s
  24. 04/06/2020 - Read:The Wedding by DorothyWest ★★★★☆ quite outside my normal zone. I enjoyed all the dips into the history of a middle class black American family.
  25. 20/05/2020 - Read: The Hiding Game – Naomi Wood ★★★☆☆ Covers lots of interesting ground with a bit of mystery. Looking back at the Bauhaus during the rise of Nazis. Love, art intrigue, drugs…
  26. 14/05/2020 - Read:The Women in Black – Madeleine St John ★★★★☆ perfect read for the time, brief looks at the lives of women working in department store in 50’s Australia. Enjoyable, funny and characters very Australian.
  27. 24/04/2020 - What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt ★★★★☆ Well that was complicated. My wife said it was 3 different books in one. I enjoyed them all.
  28. 12/04/2020 - Read: Here We Are by Graham Swift ★★★★★ Really engaging novella. I both wanted to get to the end and find out what happens and keep having more to read.
  29. 10/04/2020 - Read: A Drink Before The War Dennis Lehane ★★☆☆☆ Though a detective might cheer me up, but too may big guns and bangs.
  30. 06/04/2020 - Read: Actress by Anne Enright ★★★★☆ 📚 enjoyed the descriptions and characters, especially the actress herself. Like the layers being revealed.
  31. 01/04/2020 - Read: A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry ★★★☆☆ This was good fun but I think I prefer his less eventful books such as Annie Dunn.
  32. 28/03/2020 - Read: Nightingale by Marina Kemp ★★★★☆ I enjoyed this, absorbing description of seasons in France, reviling characters and story slowly. Slight fall away at the end.
  33. 22/03/2020 - Read: The Fifth Book Of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston ★★★☆☆ I didn’t really enjoy the middle section set in Hawaii, but the last about working with Vietnam veterans was interesting and absorbing.
  34. 19/02/2020 - Read: Middle England by Johnathan Coe ★★★★☆ Almost like a series of sketches played very much to my liberal values. Enjoyable rather than thought provoking.
  35. 08/02/2020 - Read: They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple ★★★★☆ I am getting through most of the authors books by now. This seems most obviously moral, although I didn’t notice all of the Christian symbolism. The writing is clear and I enjoy being taken to the period.
  36. 31/01/2020 - Read: The High Window by by Raymond Chandler ★★★★★ re-read of a favourite, so good.
  37. 24/01/2020 - Read Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★★, maybe not quite as great as Olive Kitteridge but still... got better and better as it went on and the last paragraph... 📚
  38. 17/01/2020 - Read: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier ★★★☆☆ I enjoyed the gentle pace and mild despair. For the most part it felt like it was right in place in between the wars.
  39. 10/01/2020 - Read: the confession by Jessie Burton ★★★☆☆ 📚
  40. 04/01/2020 - Read: Surfacing - Kathleen Jamie ★★★★☆ "you are not lost, just melodramatic. The path is at your feet, see? Now carry on. " 📚 super book connecting archaeology & or relationship with nature. Must try her poems as I've lived all the books of essays. (1st book of 2020)

2019

  1. 30/12/2019 - Read: Olive Kitteridge ★★★★★ As good as I expected. I was completely absorbed by stories. Probably the last book I'll finish this year and possible the best.
  2. 27/12/2019 - Read: Rosewater by Tade Thompson ★★½☆☆ I like the Nigerian setting and the less esoteric parts. Found the time jumping annoying on Kindle.
  3. 20/12/2019 - Read: Marilyn and Me by Ji-min Lee ★★★★☆
  4. 16/12/2019 - Read: Shadows on Our Skin by Jennifer Johnston ★★★★★ heartbreaking. 📚
  5. 09/12/2019 - Read: The Leavers by Lisa Ko ★★★★★ great read that grew and grew on me. Chinese illegal immigrants in New York and back in China. Great characters and story.📚
  6. 01/12/2019 - Read: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett ★★★★☆ good fun modern fairy tale, with some unlikely happenings.
  7. 16/11/2019 - Read: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins ★★★☆☆ 📚 l think I would have liked this better if I'd read it quicker.
  8. 16/11/2019 - Read: Calypso by David Sedaris ★★★☆☆ I think I prefer David Sedaris on the radio in small doses. I did laugh out loud a few times 📚
  9. 30/10/2019 - Read: John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James ★★★☆☆ my least favourite Marlon James so far. Got a bit too “magic realist” for me around the middle. 📚
  10. 15/10/2019 - Read: Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler ★★★☆☆
  11. 15/10/2019 - Read: Cloudstreet by Tim Winton ★★★☆☆ I probably would not have finished this if I had another novel to hand, but I did enjoy it more as I went on. Family saga, I imagine this would speak to Australians more than me.
  12. 15/10/2019 - Read Ask Again, Yes by by Mary Beth Keane ★★★☆☆
  13. 15/09/2019 - Read: The Book of Night Women ★★★★★ this is a hard book to put down but hard to read the iniquity and violence.
  14. 07/09/2019 - The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff ★★★★★ a lovely unexpected delight. A 2 week family holiday in 1930s Bogner described in gentle detail. Tender and a little sad.
  15. 07/09/2019 - City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert ★★★★☆ for the first half, some nice fast paste banter. Really laughed out loud.
  16. 15/08/2019 - Read: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell ★★★★★ Another one to re-read. Lovely voice. 📚
  17. 09/08/2019 - Read: The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov ★★★★☆ second time round after many years, still a great read.
  18. 01/08/2019 - Read: Bread Making for Beginners by Bonnie Ohara ★★★★☆ I’ve usually made bread by following the instructions on a bag of flour. Even the first recipe in this is an improvement.
  19. 20/07/2019 - Read: Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba 📚 ★★★★☆ Such a disquieting book, almost unpleasant at times. Short & powerful.
  20. 20/07/2019 - Read: Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple ★★★☆☆ My least favourite of a favourite author so far.
  21. 05/07/2019 - Read: Transcription by Kate Atkinson ★★★★☆ WWII home front spies. Heroine Juliet is engaging & funny. Some nice twists & turns. 📚
  22. 27/06/2019 - Read: Sal by Mick Kitson ★★★★☆ Enjoyed the setting and nature writing. The narrative voice of 13 year old Sal was strong and the book wears its heart on its sleeve. Felt somewhat like a YA novel.
  23. 24/06/2019 - Read Tiger by Polly Clark ★★★★☆ Enjoyed descriptions of the wilds of Siberia. The first couple of pages and the last two or three were weakest parts of the book.  📚
  24. 27/05/2019 - Read Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss ★★★★☆ Felt like two separate books, surprisingly moving when the stories came together at the end.
  25. 22/05/2019 - Read: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne ★★★★☆ Recent social history of gay men in Ireland through the life of one and his unlikely family. Lots of jokes, set pieces and conicidences beyond belief.
  26. 22/05/2019 - Read: My Former Heart by Cressida Connolly ★★★★☆ slow, in a good way, drift through the lives a few generations of women.
  27. 07/05/2019 - Read: Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple ★★★★☆ another lovely read. I like the way her stories don’t have an arc in the way a modern novel does. I am taking her books only occasionally as I am worried about running out. 📚
  28. 30/04/2019 - Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy ★★★★☆ fascinating idea, the decedents of Anna Karenina in post war London.
  29. 20/04/2019 - Read The Melody by Jim Crace ★★★★☆ set in a slightly altered eastern European country, hints of strange wild creatures.
  30. 28/03/2019 - Read The Far Cry by Emma Smith winner of the James Tait Black Prize for best English novel of 1949. I enjoyed this a lot. Some lovely descriptions & character revelations. I do wonder if it would get published today. 📚 ★★★★☆
  31. 06/03/2019 - Read: Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo ★★★★☆ Quite delightful set of characters giving a wee peek into life in Lagos at the top and bottom of the social ladder. Enjoyed.
  32. 01/03/2019 - Amongst Women by John McGahern ★★★★☆
  33. 27/02/2019 - read: Love is Blind William Boyd ★★★☆☆
  34. 16/02/2019 - Read: The Blank Walk By Elisabeth Sanxay Holding 📚 ★★★★☆ A surprise. Noir-ish from the POV of a well off mother. Raced through it.
  35. 16/02/2019 - Read: The Priory by Dorothy Whipple ★★★★☆ I can’t imagine that this novel would get through a writers workshop or past a publisher today. Several story arcs weave, some slip away. Lovey clear writing, some nice nature and a rather comfortable happy ending. 📚
  36. 31/01/2019 - Read All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison 📚 ★★★★☆ Thoroughly enjoyed. Some lovely writing. Perhaps too many themes pulled in at the end.
  37. 12/01/2019 - Read So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley – Roger Steffens 📚★★★☆☆

2018

  • 26/12/2018 - Read: Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo: Barry is a hoot, an unreliable entertaining narrator whose flaws slowly appear. Serious points nicely framed in fun. ★★★★★ 📚
  • 19/12/2018 - Read Trick by Domenico Starnone, trans. Jhumpa Lahiri. Good fun. I think I need to read The Jolly Corner and then re-read the appendix to fully ‘get” this. 📚 ★★★★☆
  • 01/12/2018 - Read They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple Published in 1944 a story of three middle class sisters their lives, marriages and children. I doubt it would get past a publisher today, but I loved this. ★★★★★ 📚
  • 12/11/2018 - Read: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss 📚 ★★★★★ Short read. Some nice nature writing contrasts the unpleasant abusive father.
  • 04/11/2018 - Read: Dirt Music by Tim Winton ★★★★☆ I’ve started this one a few times, but finally go the groove after hearing Tim Winton on a podcast. Enjoyed it. Quite preposterous ending. 📚
  • 04/11/2018 - Read:The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald ★★★☆☆ I’m occasionally re-reading Ross Macdonald after a 40 odd year break. Effective, entertaining, Chandler style detective. 📚
  • 18/10/2018 - Read The International by Glenn Patterson ★★★★✩ Enjoyable dive into a Belfast pub on the eve of the troubles.
  • 29/09/2018 - The Circle by Dave Eggers 📚 ★★★☆☆ A quick read.
  • 27/08/2018 - Read NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman I was, for some reason expecting more about ‘long sought solutions to the autism puzzle’ from the blurb. This was more of a history lesson. Easy to read in a Sunday supplement sort of way. The […]
  • 28/07/2018 - Read, and like a lot, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders ★★★★★
  • 21/07/2018 - 📚 Read Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, enjoyable, opaque and wandering story told in fragments.
  • 09/07/2018 - Read Ties by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri 📚 Very enjoyable, funny, several view points & a nice twist. If I had read the preface before I started I would not have bought, it was referring to a more intellectual book altogether!
  • 05/07/2018 - 📚 Bee Quest by Dave Goulson. I think I need to backtrack on the author to get some basic bee knowledge. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes depressing. The chapters marginal land in London and the re-wilding of Knepp Castle were my favourites.
  • 17/06/2018 - 📚 Circe by Madeline Miller ★★★★★ A wonderful read. Best thing I’ve read for a long time.
  • 20/03/2018 - 📚 The Little Red Chairs – Edna O’Brien Not sure this really worked for me. Felt like half a novel and then several short linked pieces. The violence was brutal. Maybe the unexplained and spaces helped but I thought there was something missing. ★★★
  • 23/01/2018 - Just finished Black Money by Ross MacDonald. Effective twisting Chandler-like crime from the 60s. I must have read it first as a teen in the 70s and enjoyed it again despite the odd grate against modern sensibilities. 📚 ★★★
  • 14/01/2018 - 📚 Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan Very enjoyable, pulled me along. Detail from several fascinating aspects of history (crime, war, merchant ships, diving) in the period. The drawing together at the end happened at a faster rate, perhaps too quick? ★ ★ ★ ★
  • 13/01/2018 - BBC Radio 4 – The Reservoir Tapes Subscribed to the RSS feed. I really enjoyed reading Reservoir 13 last year, starts like a crime novel and then turns into a flow from the characters and place. 📚
  • 09/01/2018 - 📚 Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (with More Ways) by Eliot Weinberger I am trying not to finish this. A look at a 20 word poem via 19 translations is amusing, fascinating and I am throughly enjoying it. Going to look at some of Mr Weinberger’s essays later.

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