Books

2020

  1. 26/06/2020 - Read: A God in Every Stone - Kamila Shamsie ★★★★☆ page turner, interesting history of WW1 & the Qissa Khwani massacre in Peshawar 📚
  2. 26/06/2020 - Read: Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown ★★★☆☆ 📚 99 witty chapters. Some laugh out loud.
  3. 26/06/2020 - Read: Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★☆ lot of darkness with light at the end. 📚
  4. 14/06/2020 - Read: Redhead by the side of the road by Anne Tyler ★★★★☆  📚
  5. 13/06/2020 - Read: The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald ★★★☆☆ Enjoyed revisiting my teenage library. 📚
  6. 13/06/2020 - Read: Old Baggage by Alissa Evans ★★★★☆ Comic novel about Suffragette in the 20s & 30s
  7. 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.
  8. 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…
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 06/04/2020 - Read: Actress by Anne Enright ★★★★☆ 📚 enjoyed the descriptions and characters, especially the actress herself. Like the layers being revealed.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 31/01/2020 - Read: The High Window by by Raymond Chandler ★★★★★ re-read of a favourite, so good.
  20. 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... 📚
  21. 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.
  22. 10/01/2020 - Read: the confession by Jessie Burton ★★★☆☆ 📚
  23. 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. 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.
  18. 20/07/2019 - Read: Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba 📚 ★★★★☆ Such a disquieting book, almost unpleasant at times. Short & powerful.
  19. 20/07/2019 - Read: Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple ★★★☆☆ My least favourite of a favourite author so far.
  20. 05/07/2019 - Read: Transcription by Kate Atkinson ★★★★☆ WWII home front spies. Heroine Juliet is engaging & funny. Some nice twists & turns. 📚
  21. 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.
  22. 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.  📚
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 22/05/2019 - Read: My Former Heart by Cressida Connolly ★★★★☆ slow, in a good way, drift through the lives a few generations of women.
  26. 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. 📚
  27. 30/04/2019 - Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy ★★★★☆ fascinating idea, the decedents of Anna Karenina in post war London.
  28. 20/04/2019 - Read The Melody by Jim Crace ★★★★☆ set in a slightly altered eastern European country, hints of strange wild creatures.
  29. 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. 📚 ★★★★☆
  30. 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.
  31. 01/03/2019 - Amongst Women by John McGahern ★★★★☆
  32. 27/02/2019 - read: Love is Blind William Boyd ★★★☆☆
  33. 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.
  34. 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. 📚
  35. 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.
  36. 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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