The last 8 months in books: May-December 2011 reads

Posted by admin on Jan 5, 2012 in books

The amount of books I read is simply getting ridiculous. Not so much for me- I can easily cope with the heightened surge (summer days/holidays= parks/beaches= abundant literature consumed) but trying to carefully write up everything I read coherently is just not working anymore. I’m so far behind on my book updates that I feel I’ll never catch up again, so I’m going to try a new tactic. Rather than read, summarize and elaborate, I’m now going to list what I’ve read and the few key ones that have stood out will get a more in depth evaluation. If you’re curious about a book I haven’t expanded on, comment below and I promise I’ll answer/ mini review and query if that helps you with your summer reading list.

I’m not certain exactly how many books I read from January to May 2011, but I’m going to conservatively estimate 14 based on this list here. That takes my total to approximately 104 books read in 2011. Yes, some of them were short young adult fiction, and a few were novellas/ Charlaine Harris’ work (read and you’ll know what I mean), but overall, that’s a total I’m happy with.

Last year I enjoyed a lot of young adult fiction. There’s something about the immediacy of this genre that really appeals to me, the intensity of the emotions, the way all the characters really do feel the centre of the universe and just how raw and ready everything is- people experience rather than evaluate and there’s something very exciting of being this involved in the story. During my exploration of this genre I discovered Kevin Brooks, and was really impressed. Kevin is a gritty author with a wonderful way with rhythm and his stories lure you in and don’t let go. The pace is fast, the words bright, and the books all have a sense of magical realism- despite documenting mundane activities. It’s the combination of what might be with the reality that makes these so gripping.

I also managed to finally read some of Sophie Kinsella’s earlier work, whilst she was using the pseudonym Madeleine Wickham. I was warned they were ‘in a different style’, but I didn’t expect them to be this bad! The Tennis Party was a dry tale of middle age and wine, with family complexities and friendship lies. It was so dull, it felt like Jilly Cooper had written a book whilst high on Robinson Fruit squash, it flowed badly, you simply didn’t care about anyone and-worst of all- it wasn’t funny at all!

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller was fantastic- I had thought it might be sordid or titillating but it actually really resonated and you felt the awkward despair at the illicit affair and understood how it occurred. The two women had this strange Freudian dependent relationship and it was an eerie book to read. I really wanted to like 100 Years of Solitude but I found it hard going, the book meandered around and though it was beautiful in parts I didn’t find myself really connecting and it was a struggle to finish.

Read on for the full list of the 104 books I read this year! Read more…

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Books I have read from November 2010 – May 2011

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2011 in books

The ‘Books I’ve read‘ feature is the least popular feature I have on my blog. Frankly, none of my readers cares at all what tomes I’ve been devouring, so rather than share them  with you monthly I’m now going to do a huge round up every couple of months. This is more for my benefit than yours; after accidentally half reading the same book twice (the cover had changed, and if I reread a book it’s intentional) I find this list a good way to reference my reading habits. Here are the latest additions to my reading time, and you’re free to skip right past this and go read about crazy geek watches, or to my article on how to get a refund from the Apple and Android app stores.

{PS; Extra Note- this has been sitting in draft phase for a good while now, and then I accidentally reread the same book AGAIN (they’d changed the cover) so enough is enough, and I’m now back to listing} To make these mini synopsis more palatable to both you and me, they’ll be distinctly shorter, with only the stand out books meriting a paragraph or two.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

It’s odd to read what’s considered a ‘classic’ book and realize how full of sex, drugs and general frippery it is. The acclaim for the book is not because it is particularly well written or will move you to tears, more that it was shocking for the time, and gives us a modern day Jilly Cooper novel in an era when women were more restrained. It charts the tale of three women. all dazzlingly beautiful, a singer, and actress and a model; from childhood insecurities right up to the pinnacle of their success- and their falls. A nice romping read, ‘Dolls’ are pills taken to enhance mood, a nod to the Dexedrine amphetamine generation. Froth, frippery and fornication blend in a novel that’s every bit as racy as the cover jacket.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer/ New Moon by Stephanie Meyer/ Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer/ Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Note: The Twilight series ruined me. I read all four books in in one week and afterwards I was left empty and withdrawn. It wasn’t that I wanted more of the story -all teen pathos and way too much female limpness;  rather that I’d somehow exhausted my thirst for books, I was sated, quenched, over run by words upon words and I had ten days with no literature other than the daily Metro newspaper. It was an odd time- I’ve never had book exhaustion before, and hope I never will again. I genuinely had zero desire to read, a very strange affair for me. In brief, Bella Swan meets a vampire masquerading as a human, falls in love, gets told they can never be together and pines for him. Over and over for the period of four books. It’s readable, but like reality TV- you can’t turn away and you want to slap every character hard int he face. The one plus point is that the books are better than the movies.

The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

So sweet, the words wrapped around me like a cashmere cloak of loveliness and the prose sparked something warm and gentle within me. I loved Chocolat, but having read that so long ago, I’d forgotten just how velveteen Harris’s words can be and how neatly they capture sleepy suburbia, magical realism, and the type of indolent laissez faire style that only the French seem to have. Set in Montmarte, this story follows on from Chocolat with a new home for the family and new fiends to combat. This time it’s not the kindly ones, it’s a new witch who uses her powers indiscriminately and who has plans of her own for the sweet little chocolate shop that Yanne has painstakingly created. She changes the way the wind smells, yet forces the family to confront what they want out of life.

Twitchiker by Paul Smith

Take one grumpy freelance journalist, a marriage newly consummated and a love of Twitter and what do you get? One man’s decision to see if he can visit the polar opposite to his house (the other side of the world) getting there on nothing more than freebies from friendly Twitter followers. Can you social network your way round the world- and will the kindness of strangers really stand you in good stead? Paul holds no punches back, from thoughts on how this may affect his relationship to worries that potential Twitter friends are axe murdering Nazi’s. It’s an engaging tale, and one that truly heralds the birth of social media. One of the most poignant examples was when Paul was in SXSW and no one there offered to help his quest- it took a ‘non scene’ Twitter follower to help him continue his journey round the world. Did he make it? Read and find out. Read more…

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