2012 Reading Review

As its the last day of the year it must be time to do a review of the books I have read in 2012.

This year I set myself a conservative goal of reading 26 books, since I changed jobs I don’t have the nice long unbroken train journey to work which is where I get to read. This fact alone would make returning to work in London a very attractive idea but I’ve got to stay in my current job for at least another year or three to repair the ole CV.

Anyway I’m getting off track, I managed to exceed my target by 2.5 the .5 comes from the fact that I am exactly half way through my 29th book with little to no chance of finishing it today.

This has not been a stellar year for reading. I’ve only marked 11 out of those 28.5 books as being particularly good reads. I mark the good ones in my book journal with an asterisk so I’ve done the same here.

Here is my reading list for 2012 in full:

1. The Unlucky Lottery – Hakan Nesser – this is a Swedish crime novel and perhaps the translation was a bit off but it wasn’t the greatest read. I found it very hard to care whodunit and the policeman investigating the crime was a bit of an arse.
And that was it for January.

2. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith.  I know this book features in an awful lot of people’s all time favourite reads and I think knowing that made this a disappointing read for me.  It was ok, fine for commuting and would have made a nice beach read but nothing special.
3. Bel Canto – Ann Patchett.*  Ah now here is a book that did live up  to the hype. What a great idea and nothing unbelievable about it even though the story is extraordinary.  I’d read this again if I didn’t have about 400 waiting patiently to be read already.

4.  Diary of a Nobody – George and Wheedon Grossmith.*  This book is surprisingly modern, its very funny and I wish I’d kept my copy now.
5. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott.  So wincingly awful I didn’t get anywhere near finishing it.
6. Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer – Joseph Conrad.  I don’t remember anything at all about the first story but the second was quite good, its about a stowaway essentially.

7. Poems on the Underground – Various.* I am really not a fan of poetry, in fact even today I was cringing at the most awful conceited idiot spouting some tripe on the breakfast news, but this is a good collection probably mainly because it brings back lots of memories of London but still, I’ve actually kept it which is a minor miracle in itself.
8. Soul Mountain – Gao Xingjiang.  Another one I didn’t finish, a truly dreadful misogynist’s prolonged rape fantasy. Seriously, one of the only books I’ve felt like destroying.

9. Changing Babies – Deborah Moggarch* Fantastic collection of short stories by the woman that wrote Stolen – the 80s(?) novel that was adapted for TV about a woman who’s child was abducted by her ex-husband and taken abroad.  If you remember that fondly you’d love this collection. Virtually every single story was a cracker.

10. Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follet* This was a re-read, I read it years ago and really loved it, so this was a re-read, it turned out to be not as good as I remembered but still a cracking read.
11. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens.* A great read even if the Fagin character is a bit worryingly stereotyped. I think I left this one in Greece on holiday.

July – pretty much all holiday reading..
12. Grumpy Old Men, Secret Diary – Stuart Prebble.  In a word, crap.
13.  Holy Fools – Joanne Harris.  I can’t remember why I didn’t give this one a star, I thought I liked it? Oh well you can’t trust memory.  At least this one was caught and on holiday in Greece too. When I say ‘caught’ I mean this got a journal on Bookcrossing from someone who picked it up and read it after me. This is a rare and special event in my life.
14. ‘…and that’s when it came off in my hand.’ – Louise Rennison* I know this is a teenager’s book, and I do not normally get on with books aimed at teenagers, I didn’t like them when I was a teenager but these are different.  These books are the funniest I’ve ever read and its now a tradition with me to read one every holiday.  Which reminds me I must buy the next one in the series in time for my 2013 holiday.
15. Work! Consume! Die! – Frankie Boyle.  This books is so shit that it actually spoiled my holiday a bit. I picked it up from the book sharing table at our apartments and that was a huge mistake. I put it back there when I’d finished too, I should have chucked it in on BBQ night.
16. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson.  Did not finish this one either, I tried to read it on the plane home and it made me feel so ill that I had to put it in the seat pocket, it actually made me come out in a cold nauseous sweat.

17. Enchanted Evening – M M Kaye. I’d read her other memoirs and loved them so I wish I hadn’t read this one, she comes across badly in it and now I don’t like her.  Trollop.
18. Meridon – Philippa Gregory.  As you’d expect its a page turner but its one of her early ones so not so polished and fabulous as say The Other Boleyn Girl but still a good story well told.
19. Stick it up your Punter! – Peter Chippendale & Chris Harrie *  Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, fascinating, hilarious and deeply worrying.  Its about The Sun newspaper basically which is not a paper I’m fond of but that doesn’t stop this from being a brilliant read.

20. Behind Closed Doors – Jenny Tomblin.*  Please don’t pass this by as just another misery memoir. Its a harrowing read but well worth reading.  She comes across as such a great woman, you’re desperate to go back in time and rescue her and her siblings but of course you can’t. It will definitely stay with you if you read this book.
21.  The Piano Teacher – Y. K. Lee*  This was an unexpected find, we have a book sharing box at work and I picked this up when I found myself unexpectedly having finished my previous read with nothing to read on the way home.  This is an absolutely cracking read, if you see a copy really you should pick it up. It does jump around in time a bit which I normally find really annoying but I love this book. Its set pre- during and post WW2 and basically follows some doomed relationships.  Its brilliant, I still think about the main characters and wish things had worked out better for them.
22. The Club – Mandasue Heller.  Shockingly crap. Its worse than a BBC1 early evening drama.

23. The Liar – Stephen Fry.  Oh dear, I was perhaps expecting too much for a first novel.  Avoid.

24. The Hippopotamus – Stephen Fry. * Well things improved dramatically in this one. A much better read, I’m glad I bothered to read this one, I nearly didn’t bother after The Liar but this cheered things up no end.
25. To be Read by Candlelight – Edith Wharton.  Fairly dull.

26. Dead Air – Iain Banks. I thought I liked Iain Banks, maybe I’m getting him confused with someone else because this was terrible, it was like reading Eastenders.
27.  Chasing Harry Winston – Lauren Weisberger.  Oh man! How shitty can you make a book and still get published? I mean even riding on the back of the success of The Devil Wears Prada this is taking the piss.  Do I need to say I didn’t finish it?
28. Hamlet – William Shakespeare.  Look, I know its Shakespeare but the ending is all wrong. It is.
29.  Perfect Victim – Christine McGuire & Carla Norton.*  I am not a big fan of true crime, I sort of suspect the target audience for true crime are perverts, sociopaths and psychos in training. I don’t know how I ended up with this on my well-balanced shelves but I’m sort of glad it did, even though I’m embarrassed to read it in public, its fascinating and horrifying. This nutter basically kidnapped a young woman and held her captive for SEVEN YEARS.  Chilling.


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