Eleanor Blair (lnr) wrote,
Eleanor Blair

Books 2008

I kept track of everything I read in 2004 with individual posts tagged and added to my memories. Since then despite good intentions it's been rather patchy. I managed to note 5 books in 2005, 3 in 2006 and none at all last year. Go me. This year let's go for a different approach and keep them all in one post, like the gigs and the bike rides.

Well, not so much a list more a narrative, and I can date each piece I add.

Saturday, January 12th:

  1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, JK Rowling
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling

OK I started these two in the last days of December. Technically they're re-reads, but I've only previously read them in French. You can tell my French has got better, as I could barely tell.

  1. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

I started this once before, several years back when it was just out in paperback, but somehow didn't manage to get more than a few chapters in. I think I found story within a story, alternating with newspaper articles and a seemingly almost unconnected narrative a bit confusing. This time I found the story compelling, told from both the end and the beginning and somewhere inbetween. She's such a good writer.

Not sure what I'll read next, I'm trying to work my way through the books in the house that I haven't read before. But then again Ballet Shoes is quite tempting, having watching the TV adaptation on Boxing Day, and it wouldn't take very long :-)

Sunday January 13th

  1. Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild

Yup, couldn't resist. A re-read obviously.

Wednesday 30th January

  1. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  2. The Tripods Trilogy, John Christopher
  3. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

Finished on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Jonathan Strange was fantastic. I mean absolutely brilliant. It seems cheating to enjoy the mannerisms of a novel writen *of* the 19th century as much as I do those which were written at the time, but it did lend an extra charm, to what was otherwise an excellent story of magic. And a story which has some of the creepiness of original English and Irish fairy tales. Loved it. The tripods was a re-read, triggered as much as anything by my mild frustration that lovefilm have the 80s TV series on their list but not available to rent. And Artemis Fowl was a christmas present from Mike (belated due to post issues and having to cancel and re-order) along with 3 others in the series, which will no doubt be appear on this list before long. Mike had obviously astutely noted I have a lot of kids books with magical or fantastical themes, and that I still enjoy reading them, so I was pleased to get these. I found it a little odd going to start with, the language somewhat stilted in places, but the story sucked me in and I'm looking forward to reading more. I think if you were 12 and hence more likely to identify with the protagonist the result might be rather different, since he's not actually the most sympathetic of characters. Interesting to see where this goes.

Sunday 3rd February

  1. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Eoin Colfer
  2. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Eoin Colfer
  3. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Eoin Colfer

These have been great while I've been full of cold. Quick, easy and fun. Definitely grown on me. I've stuck book 5 and book 6 (not out til this summer) on my wishlist as a result. Many thanks go to Mike anyway. Not sure what to read next yet.

Monday 11th February

  1. Sacrées Sorcières, Roald Dahl, Translation: Marie-Raymond Farré
  2. Touch Not The Cat, Mary Stewart
  3. Party Frock, Noel Streatfeild
  4. Stardust, Neil Gaiman

Technically all re-reads, although I'd not read The Witches in French before (a birthday present from Becky: thanks!). It was great fun to read though, and still has Quentin Blake's excellent illustrations. The Mary Stewart came away with me for the weekend, and I've read the other two since we got back, the perils of being off with a cold do make for lots of reading time. I should try pick something I've not read before next, but re-reads are good for comfort reading.

Monday 28th April

  1. The Secret Purposes, David Baddiel
  2. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  3. Emma, Jane Austen
  4. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  5. Lady Susan, Jane Austen
  6. The Steep Approach To Garbadale, Iain Banks
  7. The Lesser Evil, Lesley Pearse

A while since I updated. The David Baddiel was recommended some time ago by bopeepsheep in the "I promise to read the first book that is recommended to me" meme. It's take me a couple of years, but I finally bought a copy and got round to it. A little dark, and a little sad. The story of a jewish refugee to England during the Second World War, his time in an internment camp on the Isle of Man, his family and the young civil servant trying to reveal the truth about the atrocities going on in the concentration camps. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but enjoyable.

The Jane Austens were all re-reads, from my "Complete Novels" collection. The latter is a short novel all in letters which really doesn't live up to the rest, but I'd not read recently. I think Persuasion is my current favourite.

The Iain Banks I spotted in Tesco and couldn't resist, and loved. I really like his writing, and it was nice to read one I think I could safely recommend to my mum (she loved The Crow Road, but hates the nasty violent bits in many of the others).

And the Lesley Pierce is one which I bought from a vending machine at Gatwick Airport in February, just for the sheer joy of the fact that a book vending machine exists. Chick-lit, set in the 60s, dark in places, but an enjoyable read - I'd have read it sooner but I lent to to my mum to read on the way home, so didn't get it back til we saw them near Easter. Sometimes it's nice to have something a bit page-turnery and not too mentally challenging.

The to-read pile is still rather tall (c 2 feet) but I'm not sure what I'll go for next.

Sunday March 18th

  1. Shadowmarch, Tad Williams

Just one book since last time, I'm getting better at writing them up, or slower at reading. A new trilogy by Tad Williams, bought the first of them at Kings Cross station when we had half an hour to kill before our train a few weeks back. I definitely enjoyed this one, so I now feel rather silly for having started the trilogy before all three books are available. The next is out but perhaps not yet in paperback and is called Shadowplay, but I don't even know the name of the third one! Fairly stock fantasy novel, but I like his style, and thankfully this is a bit lighter going that the Otherworld series was. And it makes a refreshing change for the main protagonists to actually *know* they're the prince and princess in advance, rather than having to do the whole adventure and then find it out. I'll get on with the rest of the to-read pile for now, but look forward to the rest.

The left pile is all borrowed from family, the right half is all mine, it's getting a bit tall.

Sunday, May 25th

  1. Midwives, Chris Bohjalian
  2. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka
  3. Hey Nostradamus!, Douglas Copeland
  4. Hide & Seek, Clare Sambrook

Yes, it's only a week since I last wrote here. In 3 weeks I'd managed to read 1 book. Since then I have read 4. What a contrast. I don't think it's so much the books themselves and the fact I've been more in the mood for reading.

Anyway, I enjoyed all four of these. The first three were all lent to me by family, and were particularly recommended, which is why I picked them from the big to-read pile first. The tractors took longest, but then it was read during the week rather than at the weekend, the others were all finished the morning after starting them, or the same afternoon in the case of Midwives. All four have perhaps rather dark overtones: from being accused of killing someone by performing an emergency caesarian on them believing they were already dead, through to a 10 year old and his family dealing with the loss of his little brother. None of them were depressing though, and I'd definitely recommend them. Now I just have to work out what to read next.

Saturday June 21st

  1. L'oeil du loup, Daniel Pennac
  2. Ya-yas in bloom, Rebecca Wells
  3. East, West, Salman Rushdie
  4. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  5. Ghostwritten, David Mitchell

One re-read (Pratchett), one in French for children (Pennac), one borrowed from my sister (Mitchell) one which I thought I'd borrowed but in fact is mine (Rushdie) and one chick lit (Wells). The two "borrowed" ones definitely stood out from the rest. The Rushdie is a bunch of shorts either set in the East or the West or a mixture of the two, in a variety of settings both past and present, and with a lovely whimsical feel to several of them. The Mitchell starts out feeling like short stories too, and in a way it is, but a thread runs through them, and gradually ties them all together in a rather unexpectedly science fiction ending. Terrorists in Japan, a banker in Hong Kong, an old woman in china, a spirit trying to find its origins in Mongolia, gangsters in St Petersburg, a ghostwriter in London, a physicist on the run and a New York radio presenter, all through it as well run themes of love: both happy and sad, and in many different forms. Charming throughout and gripping towards the end, though I was left a little lost by the epilogue. Fab.

Saturday 16th August

  1. A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon
  2. Great Northern, Arthur Ransome
  3. The Crow Road, Iain Banks
  4. Excession, Iain M. Banks
  5. Regeneration, Pat Barker
  6. The Eye In The Door, Pat Barker
  7. The Eyre Affair, Jasper FForde
  8. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker

A Spot of Bother was excellent fun, and I think more accessible than Mark Haddon's earlier book The Curious Incident... Finished it on holiday on Bute, then read Great Northern since it was one of the books provided by The Landmark Trust - they like to have books set vaguely in the area, though really this one's further North and less well inland. This is a re-read since it's the only Swallows and Amazons book I actually have. Borrowed The Crow Road from mum and dad for a re-read too, and then Excession which was kindly given to me by Sally. Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy is rather darker fare, but very very good. Having only just finished it I'm definitely in need of another light read like The Eyre Affair to follow it up. At some point I'll definitely be looking for some more Fforde, but in the meantime I continue to work down the to-read piles.

Saturday 6th December

  1. Riders, Jilly Cooper
  2. Rivals, Jilly Cooper
  3. Polo, Jilly Cooper
  4. The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Jilly Cooper
  5. Pandora, Jilly Cooper
  6. The War of the Flowers, Tad Williams
  7. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Eoin Colfer
  8. Nation, Terry Pratchett
  9. The Stand, Stephen King

Not one of these books was on the to-read pile. I started the Jilly Cooper books because I felt I needed something light and entertaining while we were worrying about the move. Pandora and the War of the Flowers were bought one random day in town partly inspired by being in the middle of the other Coopers, Artemis Fowl came from Amazon, Nation and the Stand were borrowed from Mike. I've missed a couple in the middle of the Jilly Cooper series (not realising Pandora was one of the same line) which I guess I'd like to read at some point, but first I suspect I'm going to read a bunch of school stories I just bought cheap on Amazon for nostalgia's sake. And then maybe I'll get back to the to-read pile. Which has sadly just grown, as I spotted some more on the shelves that I've not read yet. Oops. Still, with a pile of thin novels to come I suspect I'll manage an average of a book a week this year, which could be worse.

Sunday 14th December

  1. First Term at Trebizon/Second Term at Trebizon/Summer Term at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  2. Boy Trouble at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  3. More Trouble at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  4. The Tennis Term at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  5. Summer Camp at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  6. Into the Fourth at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  7. The Hockey Term at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  8. Fourth Year Triumphs at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  9. The Ghostly Term at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  10. Fifth Year Friendships at Trebizon, Anne Digby
  11. Past Mortem, Ben Elton

On a whim I bought nearly all of the Trebizon series from Amazon Marketplace, and have read them over the last week. Being ill on Friday finished them off. Sadly the last two (Secret Letters at Trebizon and The Unforgettable Fifth at Trebizon) are rather too expensive secondhand for random purchases, so I shall have to do without the rest of Rebecca's fifth year for now. The Ben Elton came from the to-read pile, and was a present some time back. I've no idea why it's taken me so long to feel like reading it. And in fact it was an enjoyable whodunnit.

Wednesday 31st December

  1. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Eoin Colfer
  2. Wall and Piece, Banksy
  3. Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones

I've finished the year with a couple of absolutely excellent children's books, the first of which was a very welcome belated birthday present from Becky. Plus the brilliant Banksy book which Mike gave me for Christmas, if you count art books (and I do, it had words, and I read them all from start to finish). I've got another book on the go now, but I don't think I'll finish it today, so it will have to be the first on 2009's list.

All in all I'm pleased to have averaged over 1 book a week, although there have definitely been some thin patches. There've been quite a few re-reads and a lot of kids books, but there's a fair lump of "real" reading in there too. Not that I think that's actually a very useful distinction. Books and music have been two great loves of mine since I was old enough to enjoy either, and it's interesting to note that in a year where I've gone to fewer gigs and bought less new music I have at least found time for a reasonably large amount of reading. Perhaps I'll manage a bit more music next year.

Addendum: I really must have re-read The Hounds of the Morrigan this year, because I only ordered it from Amazon on 31/12/2007, and I've definitely read that copy! Not sure when though.

Tags: 2008, books 2008

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