Category Archives: books

Books I’ve Read 2017

As it is quickly coming to the end of 2017, I have started to review my list of 17 for 2017. And oh dear, so many things are far from complete! Over the next couple of weeks I will have to see what I can do to improve the situation, but some are beyond saving.

I thought I may cover some of my list as individual posts. So I am starting with Number 11 – Read eleven new authors

These days I spend more time reading children’s books than adult fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading stories to my two, and we have some favourite authors which we have read again this year including Dick King-Smith, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, Holly Webb and Lucy Daniels. This year we discovered Jenny Nimmo, a British author. I have to include her in my list of eleven to reach my total! The first book we read of hers this year was Dog Star. A lovely tale of a child who wanted a dog and got a star of sorts! We subsequently found Toby in the Dark in the library, which we also enjoyed.

So to adult fiction. My 6 month list summary had just two books. So here is another eight to complete the task (well almost as two books are unfinished)!

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was probably one of the top three of the reading year. It is a story of a fifteen year old girl in Nigeria. Her life is ruled over by a fanatically religious and abusive father.

LaRosa by Louise Erdrich, again in the top 3, is set in North Dakota. The story follows the lives of two families who are neighbours. There is a tragic accident when one of the father’s shoots his neighbour’s son while out hunting. The story intertwines Native American culture with how the families deal with the death of the young boy.

The Time is Now by Pauline McLynn. Like LaRose there are elements of the spirit world in this book which follows the lives of a group of people in a flat in Soho. The people are from the past, present and future and yet their lives are connected.

The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stemple is the best natural history book I read this year, and so again in my top 3. I found it a very engaging read. The focus of the book is the author’s wish to turn a barren arable field into something rich and full of life.

438 Days: An extraordinary true story of survival at sea by Jonathan Franklin. This is exactly what it says on the tin! A fascinating account of a man’s will to survive against the odds.

Common Ground by Rob Cowan (still reading). Cowan explores the wildlife of a piece of ground not far from where he lives.

The Man who made things out of Wood – Robert Penn (Unfinished –  but will probably take it up again at some point).

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (autobiography). If this book hadn’t taken me so long to read I may have reached my target! Still it was an interesting read about a man who was determined though hard work and grit to achieve his goal. I was not aware that Springsteen suffered from depression and it is interesting to read how he deals with it.

There may have been others, but I didn’t write them down!

Over the year, I have also read some of my favourite authors. Of those Colum McCann’s  – Thirteen Ways of Looking was probably my favourite. The title refers to the novella in the book but the book also includes three short stories. I was particularly moved by Sh’Khol, the story of a mother and her deaf son.

And Annie Proulx’s Postcards, the poignant story of a family of New England farmers – the Bloods, and how they lost their land.

 

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16 for 2016 Review

With the end of the year looming, I thought it time to start a little review of my 16 for 2016. I thought I would start with number 15 which was to read fifteen books in the year. I have been an avid reader since childhood, so in truth there is always a book by my bedside. I enjoy fiction,  autobiographies and fact especially when based around natural history.

One of the best, if sommothsnowstormewhat depressing nature books I read this year was The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy. A British environmental journalist of note, McCarthy writes about many of the losses mother nature has suffered at the hands of the human race. However, he also asks us to remember the joy nature brings us and reflects on how in many ways nature has been his own “guardian angel”.

Corvus A Life With Birds by Esther Woolfson is the very engaging tale of how Esther and her family have raised various orphaned crovids (e.g. rooks and magpies) over the years. She writes eloquently of how these bright, intelligent birds changed her own life. I have previously blogged about Dave Goulson’s A Buzz about the Meadow which was another firm favourite.

Novels I have read include  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a sort of realistic fairy-tale set in Alaska in the 1920’s and Irish author Anne Enright’s The Green RoadCastle Book Shop in our local town Castlebar often has some great bargains and this is how I came across Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings. I had loved her other book “The Secret Life of Bees” and this second  book did not disappoint. The book gives a fictionalised account of the lives of the Grimké sisters in America and one of their “fictional” slaves. The sisters were among the first female abolition agents in America and were also two of the earliest feminist thinkers.

It is some years since I read Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mocking Bird” and I was looking forward to reading her second book. While I did enjoyed Go Set a Watchman,  it did not stay with me as much as her first book.

The Book Seller of Kabul by jounalist Åsne Seierstad had been on my list to read for some time, so when I saw it on sale in the local book shop I snapped it up. The book tells about the life of a book seller and his family in Kabul in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. Besiege: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street, written by Barbara Demick was an eye opening account of the affects of the war on the people of the besieged city. It was a real tribute to the people of the city and their determination to survive.

Other books have included:

  • The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
  • The Love Song of Ms Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce
  • Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell recommended to me by Melissa from https://melissashawsmith.com/
  • 438 Days by Jonathan Franklin

I am currently reading Purple Hibiscus  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I also read to the children most nights and our range is pretty diverse. The local library is an excellent resource and we use it as much as we can. This year we’ve made our way pretty much through their Dirty Bertie collection.  Bertie is always getting into trouble even when he doesn’t mean too! We are steadily making our way through Holly Webbs books too. Many of them are stories about cats and dogs and they always have a happy ending. Mr Stink by David Walliams is a book that particularly sticks in my head. It’s about a homeless tramp and his friendship with a lonely young girl. We’re currently all enjoying Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine.