Jump to content

Willoyd's Reading 2020

Recommended Posts

Thread Contents


Post number

02.  Book List 2020

03.  Favourite books

04.  Favourite authors

05.  Tour of the United States

06.  Classic fiction:  Dickens, Zola and 100 Best Novels in English

07.  Fiction:  O'Brian, Sansom, Leon, Simenon

08.  Some stats

09.  Big Reading List - Fiction

10.  Big Reading List - Non-fiction

11.  spare

12.  spare

13.  spare

14.  2019 review, 2020 preview

15.  Accolades for 2019


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Book List 2020

Previous book lists: 2009, 2010-2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


01.  The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden *****

02.  All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy *****

03.  Charles I, An Abbreviated Life by Mark Kishlansky ****



* Ugh: disliked this (probably a lot), likely to be unfinished.
** Disappointing: didn't really engage with this, may be unfinished.
*** OK: solid and enjoyable/interesting enough read, but not unputdownable.
**** Good: into the realms of not wanting to put it down.
***** Excellent: outstanding, even if not quite a favourite.
****** A favourite: something makes this special, even if only personal to me.

A=audiobook, D=doorstopper, G=Reading group read, M=Thousand Books To Read Before You Die (Mustich) R=reread, T=Thousand and One Books To Read Before You Die (Boxall), U=USA States Challenge read,  X=unfinished


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Favourite Books
A record of the 126 books and series to which I've given my top rating.  These aren't necessarily the best literature I've read, but the books that are personal favourites, that, for whatever reason, struck a special chord in my reading. Individual books within a series are likely to have scored less, but the rating is for the series as a whole. The lists are divided into

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Children's Fiction

Fiction (78)
Ackroyd, Peter: Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem
Ackroyd, Peter: Hawksmoor
Atkinson, Kate: Case Histories
Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane: Emma
Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre
Buchan, John: John Macnab
Carr JL: A Month in the Country
Carr JL: The Harpole Report
Chaucer, Geoffrey: The Canterbury Tales
Chevalier, Tracey: Falling Angels
Childers, Erskine: The Riddle of the Sands
Collins, Norman: London Belongs To Me
Cooper, Susan: The Dark is Rising
Cunningham, Michael: The Hours
Davies, Martin: The Conjuror's Bird
Dickens, Charles: A Christmas Carol
Dickens, Charles: Bleak House
Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield

Dunant, Sarah: In the Company of the Courtesan

Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose
Eliot, George: Middlemarch
Elphinstone, Margaret: The Sea Road
Elphinstone, Margaret: Voyageurs
Ewing, Barbara: Rosetta
Fforde, Jasper: The Eyre Affair
Goscinny, Rene: Asterix in Britain
Greig, Andrew: The Return of John Macnab

Guareschi, Giovanni: The Don Camillo series
Haddon, Mark: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Hardy, Thomas: Far From The Madding Crowd
Herbert, Frank: Dune
Heyer, Georgette: The Grand Sophy

Hill, Reginald: On Beulah Height
Holtby, Winifred: South Riding

Horwood, William: Stonor Eagles, The

Horwood, William: Skallagrig
Hulme, Keri: The Bone People

Ivey, Eowyn: To the Bright Edge of the World
Japrisot, Sebastian: A Very Long Engagement

Le Carre, John: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Lee, Harper: To Kill A Mockingbird

Leon, Donna: The Brunetti series

Mantel, Hilary: Wolf Hall

McMurtry, Larry: Lonesome Dove
Melville, Herman: Moby Dick
Miller, Andrew: Pure

Miller, Andrew: Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
Mitchell, David: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Monsarrat, Nicholas: The Cruel Sea
Moorcock, Michael: Mother London
O'Brian, Patrick: The Aubrey-Maturin series
Pears, Ian: An Instance of the Fingerpost
Penney, Stef: The Tenderness of Wolves
Perry, Sarah: The Essex Serpent
Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News
Rushdie, Salman: Midnight's Children
Seth, Vikram: A Suitable Boy
Simenon, Georges: The Maigret series
Smiley, Jane: A Thousand Acres
Smith, Dodie: I Capture the Castle
Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men
Stephenson, Neal: Cryptonomicon
Stevenson, Robert Louis: Kidnapped
Swift, Graeme: Waterland

Taylor, Elizabeth: A View of the Harbour
Thomas, Dylan: Under Milk Wood
Thompson, Harry: This Thing of Darkness
Tolkien JRR: The Lord of the Rings
Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace

Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited
Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
Woolf, Virginia: Mrs Dalloway
Woolf, Virginia: The Years
Woolf, Virginia: To The Lighthouse
Woolf, Virginia: Between the Acts
Woolfenden, Ben: The Ruins of Time
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz: The Shadow of the Wind

Non-fiction (40)
Blanning, Tim: The Pursuit of Glory
Brown, Hamish: Hamish's Mountain Walk
Clayton, Tim: Waterloo
Cocker, Mark: Crow Country
Dawkins, Richard: The Blind Watchmaker
Fadiman, Anne: Ex Libris
Frater, Alexander: Chasing the Monsoon

Gogarty, Paul: The Water Road
Hanff, Helen: 84 Charing Cross Road
Harding, Thomas: The House By The Lake
Hastings, Max: All Hell Let Loose
Holland, James: Dam Busters
Hoskins, WG: The Making of the English Landscape

Howell, Georgina: Daughter of the Desert
Huntford, Roland: Shackleton
Jamie, Kathleen: Findings
Junger, Sebastian: The Perfect Storm
Lee, Hermione: Virginia Woolf

Lewis-Stempel, John: The Running Hare
Liptrot, Amy: The Outrun
Longford, Elizabeth: Wellington, The Years of the Sword
MacGregor, Neil: Germany, Memories of a Nation
Moore, Richard: In Search of Robert Millar
Nichols, Peter: A Voyage for Madmen

Nicolson, Adam: The Seabird's Cry
Pennac, Daniel: The Rights of the Reader
Pinker, Stephen: The Language Instinct
Rackham, Oliver: The History of the Countryside
de Saint-Exupery, Antoine: Wind, Sand and Stars
Salisbury, Laney and Gay: The Cruellest Miles

Sands, Philippe: East-West Street

Schumacher, EF: Small is Beautiful
Simpson, Joe: Touching the Void
Taylor, Stephen: Storm and Conquest
Tomalin, Claire: Pepys, The Unequalled Self

Tree, Isabella: Wilding
Uglow, Jenny: The Pinecone
Unsworth, Walt: Everest
Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen
Wheeler, Sara: Terra Incognita

Children's Fiction (8)
Berna, Paul: Flood Warning

Bond, Michael: The Paddington Bear series
Kipling, Rudyard: Puck of Pook's Hill/Rewards and Fairies
Milne, AA: Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner
Pullman, Philip: Northern Lights
Ransome, Arthur: The Swallows and Amazons series
Sutcliff, Rosemary: The Eagle of the Ninth
White, TH: Mistress Masham's Repose


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Favourite authors
To qualify for this list, I have to have read at least three books by that author (amazing how many where I've just read two, especially non-fiction!), so no one-book wonders (it's the book then, not the author!). None of the books themselves need to have reached a six star rating, but they do need to have been rated consistently highly. Authors may be listed under both fiction and non-fiction.  I've only included authors of adult books - for favourite children's authors, see favourite book list, as the two lists are pretty much the same.

Jane Austen
JL Carr

Charles Dickens
Sarah Dunant
Margaret Elphinstone

Thomas Hardy
Donna Leon
Patrick O'Brian
Georges Simenon

Virginia Woolf


Tim Clayton
Lisa Jardine
Jan Morris
Simon Schama
Claire Tomalin
Jenny Uglow


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A Tour of the States
My experience of American literature being much narrower than I would like, I decided to take a tour of the states in a similar way to our own English Counties challenge: 51 books, one set in each of the American states (including Washington DC).  In fact, the English Counties was modelled on an American States challenge here, but in the spirit of broadening that experience, I have amended it using these rules: a. it must be fiction; b. an author can only appear once; c. nothing before 1900; d. no children's books; e. no rereads. Inevitably some great books and authors will have been left off, but the process itself has already helped identify those holes, and I aim to fill them in as additional reading!  Blue means read, bold blue means read this year.


The Keepers of the House - Shirley Ann Grau (Alabama) *****
To The Bright Edge of the World - Eowyn Ivey (Alaska) ******
The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver (Arizona) ****
True Grit - Charles Portis (Arkansas) ****
East of Eden - John Steinbeck (California)
Plainsong - Kent Haruf (Colorado)
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates (Connecticut)
The Saint of Lost Things - Christopher Castellani (Delaware)
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston (Florida)
The Color Purple - Alice Walker (Georgia) T
Hawaii - James Michener (Hawaii)
Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson (Idaho) ****
The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow (Illinois) T
The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields (Indiana) T
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert Waller (Iowa) ****
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote (Kansas) T
Icy Sparks - Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Kentucky)
All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren (Louisiana)
Empire Falls - Richard Russo (Maine)
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler (Maryland)
Ethan Frome- Edith Wharton (Massachusetts) T ***
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides (Michigan) T
Main Street - Sinclair Lewis (Minnesota) T
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner (Mississippi)
Stoner - John Williams (Missouri)
A River Runs Through It - Norman Maclean (Montana)
My Antonia - Willa Cather (Nebraska) *****
The Ox-Bow Incident - Walter van Tilburg Clark (Nevada)
Peyton Place - Grace Metallious (New Hampshire)
The Sportswriter - Richard Ford (New Jersey) ****
Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy (New Mexico)
Underworld - Don DeLillo (New York) T
Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier (North Carolina) *****
The Round House - Louise Erdrich (North Dakota)
Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson (Ohio) ***
Paradise - Toni Morrison (Oklahoma)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey (Oregon) T
The Killer Angels - Michael Shaara (Pennsylvania)
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike (Rhode Island)
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd (South Carolina) ***
Welcome to Hard Times - EL Doctorow (South Dakota)
A Death in the Family - James Agee (Tennessee)
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry (Texas) ******
Riders of the Purple Sage - Zane Grey (Utah)
The Secret History - Donna Tartt (Vermont) T
The Known World - Edward P Jones (Virginia)
Snow Falling on Cedars- David Guterson (Washington) ***
Advise and Consent - Allen Drury (Washington DC) *****
Storming Heaven - Denise Giardina (West Virginia)
The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach (Wisconsin) T
The Virginian - Owen Wister (Wyoming)


T = on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list.


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Classics fiction

Two authors whose books I want to focus more on:

  • Charles Dickens
  • Emile Zola's Rougon-Macquart series

plus one reading list of 'classics'

  • The 100 Best Novels in English by Robert McCrum


Charles Dickens
01. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837) ****
02. The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1839) *****
03. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1839) *****

04. The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) ***
05. Barnaby Rudge (1841)
06. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844)
07. Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son (1848)
08. The Personal History of David Copperfield (1850) ******
09. Bleak House (1853) ******
10. Hard Times (1854)
11. Little Dorrit (1857)
12. A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
13. Great Expectations (1861) ****
14. Our Mutual Friend (1865)
15. The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870)

The Christmas Books
16. A Christmas Carol (1843) ******
17. The Chimes (1844) ***
18. The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
19. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1846)

Emile Zola's Rougon-Macquart Series
01. La Fortune des Rougon
02. Son Excellence Eugene Rougon
03. La Curee
04. L'Argent
05. Le Reve
06. La Conquete de Plassans
07. Pot-Bouille
08. Au Bonheur des Dames
09. La Faute de L'Abbe Mouret
10. Une Page d'amour
11. Le Ventre de Paris
12. La Joie de vivre
13. L'Assommoir
14. L'Oeuvre
15. La Bete humaine
16. Germinal
17. Nana
18. La Terre
19. La Debacle
20. Le Docteur Pascal


The 100 Best Novels in English by Robert McCrum

This is a list that was developed by McCrum in a weekly series in the Observer, and then published as a book by Galileo.  It's definitely an individual's list, and I do think there aren't enough female writers on the list, but it's no less interesting for all that, as an object of (heated!) discussion if nothing else, not least because the author only allowed himself one book per writer (I disagree on his choice for several writers!).  Books read to date are highlighted in blue, this year in bold. 


Read so far:  33/100


In chronological order

01.  The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678)

02.  Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defore (1719)

03.  Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

04.  Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1748)

05.  Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749)

06.  Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (1759)

07.  Emma by Jane Austen (1816)

08.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

09.  Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)

10.  The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by E A Poe (1838)

11.  Sybil by Benjamin Disrael (1845)

12.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)

13.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)

14.  Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)

15.  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)

16.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

17.  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

18.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

19.  The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

20.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

21.  Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871)

22.  The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (1875)

23.  Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

24.  Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

25.  Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889)

26.  The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890)

27.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

28.  New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891)

29.  Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)

30.  The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895)

31.  Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

32.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

33.  Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900)

34.  Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)

35.  The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

36.  The Golden Bowl by Henry James (1904)

37.  Hadrian the Seventh by Frederick Rolfe (1904)

38.  The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

39.  The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells (1910)

40.  Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (1911)

41.  The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)

42.  The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)

43.  The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (1915)

44.  Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham (1915)

45.  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)

46.  Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)

47.  Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

48.  A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)

49.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (1925)

50.  Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

51.  The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

52.  Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926)

53.  The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

54.  The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929)

55.  As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

56.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

57.  Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

58.  Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos (1932)

59.  Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

60.  Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)

61.  Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)

62.  The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

63.  Party Going by Henry Green (1939)

64.  At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien (1939)

65.  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

66.  Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse (1946)

67.  All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)

68.  Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (1947)

69.  The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (1948)

70.  Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell (1949)

71.  The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)

72.  The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)

73.  The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)

74.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

75.  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

76.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

77.  Voss by Patrick White (1957)

78.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

79.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1960)

80.  Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

81.  The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)

82.  A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

83.  A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964)

84.  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)

85.  The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1966)

86.  Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)

87.  Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)

88.  Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)

89.  Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)

90.  A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (1979)

91.  Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)

92.  Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)

93.  Money by Martin Amis (1984)

94.  An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (1986)

95.  The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald (1988)

96.  Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1988)

97.  Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)

98.  Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)

99.  Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999)

00.  True Story of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000)


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fiction focus

  • Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series
  • CJ Sansom's Shardlake series
  • Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series
  • Georges Simenon's Maigret books

Books in standard blue are those read in previous years; 2020 books are in bold.


Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series
01. Master and Commander
02. Post Captain
03. HMS Surprise
04. The Mauritius Command
05. Desolation Island

06. The Fortune of War
07. The Surgeon's Mate
08. The Ionian Mission
09. Treason's Harbour
10. The Far Side of the World
11. The Reverse of the Medal
12. The Letter of Marque
13. The Thirteen Gun Salute
14. The Nutmeg of Consolation
15. Clarissa Oakes
16. The Wine-Dark Sea
17. The Commodore
18. The Yellow Admiral
19. The Hundred Days
20. Blue at the Mizzen


CJ Sansom's Shardlake series

01. Dissolution (2003) 

02. Dark Fire (2004)

03. Sovereign (2006)

04. Revelation (2008)

05. Heartstone (2010)

06. Lamentation (2014)

07. Tombland (2018)


Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series

01. Death at La Fenice (1992) ****

02. Death in a Strange Country (1993) ****

03. The Anonymous Venetian (1994) ****

04. A Venetian Reckoning (1995) ****

05. Acqua Alta (1996) ****

06. The Death of Faith (1997) ****

07. A Noble Radiance (1997) ****

08. Fatal Remedies (1999) *****

09. Friends in High Places (2000) ****

10. A Sea of Troubles (2001)

11. Wilful Behaviour (2002)

12. Uniform Justice (2003)

13. Doctored Evidence (2004)

14. Blood from a Stone (2005)

15. Through a Glass, Darkly (2006)

16. Suffer the Little Children (2007)

17. The Girl of His Dreams (2008)

18. About Face (2009)

19. A Question of Belief (2010)

20. Drawing Conclusions (2011)

21. Beastly Things (2012)

22. The Golden Egg (2013)

23. By Its Cover (2014)

24. Falling in Love (2015)

25. The Waters of Eternal Youth (2016)

26. Earthly Remains (2017)

27. The Temptation of Forgiveness (2018)

28. Unto Us A Son Is Given (2019)


Georges Simenon's Maigret novels

1-26 read prior to 2020

27. Maigret in New York

28. Maigret's Holiday

29. Maigret's Dead Man

30. Maigret's First Case

31. My Friend Maigret

32. Maigret at the Coroner's

33. Maigret and the Old Lady

34. Madame Maigret's Friend

35. Maigret's Memoirs

36. Maigret at Picratt's ****

37. Maigret Takes a Room

38. Maigret and the Tall Woman

39. Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters

40. Maigret's Revolver

41. Maigret and the Man on the Bench

42. Maigret is Afraid

43. Maigret's Mistake

44. Maigret Goes to School

45. Maigret and the Dead Girl

46. Maigret and the Minister

47. Maigret and the Headless Corpse

48. Maigret Sets a Trap

49. Maigret's Failure

50. Maigret Enjoys Himself

51. Maigret Travels

52. Maigret's Doubts

53. Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses

54. Maigret's Secret

55. Maigret in Court

56. Maigret and the Old People

57. Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

58. Maigret and the Good People of Montparnasse

59. Maigret and the Saturday Caller

60. Maigret and the Tramp

61. Maigret's Anger

62. Maigret and the Ghost

63. Maigret Defends Himself


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some Stats


The Last 10 Years (to end 2019)

Books read - 654  (370 in the past 5 years)

Most books in a year - 80 (2016)

Fewest books in a year - 50 (2011)

Most pages in a year - 23626 (2018)

Most books in a month - 19 (Dec 2011)

Highest average month - 13.5 (December)

Lowest average month - 3.5 (February)

% Fiction / Non-Fiction  - 69 / 31

% Male / Female author - 58 / 42


Star ratings

1 - 28 (4.2%, including 0 rereads)

2 - 55 (8.3%, 0 rereads)

3 - 183 (27.6%, 10 rereads)

4 - 207 (31.3%, 7 rereads)

5 - 125 (18.9%, 13 rereads)

6 - 64 (9.7%, 23 rereads)


2019 figures

Books read - 75

Most books in a month - 14 (December)

Fewest books in a month - 1 (January)

Pages in the year - 22427 (299 average per book)

Most pages - 845 (Lonesome Dove)

Fewest pages - 100 (A Christmas Carol)

% Fiction / Non-Fiction  - 51 / 49

% Male / Female author - 56 / 41

% Paper / Electronic - 83 / 17 (No audiobooks this year)

% Owned / Borrowed (inc Library) - 73 / 27


Star ratings

1 - 2 (2.7%, 0 rereads)

2 - 5 (6.7%, 0 rereads)

3 - 23 (30.7%, 0 rereads)

4 - 25 (33.3%, 1 reread)

5 - 13 (17.3%, 1 reread)

6 - 7 (9.3%, 3 rereads)


TBR list

End of...

2017 - 1472

2018 - 1378

2019 - 1331


Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My Big Reading List - Fiction

I love book lists, and have sort of followed several over the years.  However, most of them seem to contain loads I don't actually want to read, or those which I've tried and really can't stomach (even if it's because I just find them beyond me - Ulysses anyone?!) and life really is too short! So, I thought I'd make up my own.  The following is very much a work in progress, and will change over time, but basically includes two categories of books: those I've read and which have made an important difference to my adult reading, and those I feel I want and maybe 'need' to read (there are plenty that I apparently 'need' to read, but have no desire to!).  Once I've read them though, they may come off the list (and quite a few have already)!  Hopefully the list will never reach 1001, but it'll definitely be at least well into the hundreds!

Books that I've read are in blue (bold if read during 2020).


Total: 390 (Read 149, 1 this year)

 Pre-1600 (10)

Apollonius of Rhodes: The Voyage of the Argo

Armitage, Simon (tr.): Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Armitage, Simon (tr.): The Death of King Arthur

Chaucer, Geoffrey: The Canterbury Tales

Heaney, Seamus (tr.): Beowulf

Homer: The Odyssey

Homer: The Iliad

Milton, John: Paradise Lost

Virgil: The Aeneid

Ovid: Metamorphoses


1600-1799 (9)

Behn, Aphra: Oronooko

Burney, Fanny: Evelina

Cervantes, Miguel de: Don Quixote

Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe

Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones

Smollett, Tobias: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Sterne, Laurence: Tristram Shandy

Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels

Voltaire: Candide


1800-1899 (85)

Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane: Emma

Austen, Jane: Persuasion

Balzac, Honore de: Eugenie Grandet

Balzac, Honore de: Le Pere Goriot

Balzac, Honore de: Lost Illusions

Bronte, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre

Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights

Carroll, Lewis: Alice in Wonderland (2 vols)

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening

Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White

Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone

Cooper, James Fenimore: The Last of the Mohicans

Dickens, Charles: Pickwick Papers

Dickens, Charles: Oliver Twist

Dickens, Charles: A Christmas Carol

Dickens, Charles: Dombey and Son

Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House

Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit

Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations

Dickens, Charles: Our Mutual Friend

Dostoevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Brothers Karamazov

Doyle, Arthur Conan: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo

Eliot, George: Adam Bede

Eliot, George: The Mill on the Floss

Eliot, George: Middlemarch

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary

Gaskell, Elizabeth: Mary Barton

Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South

Hardy, Thomas: Far From the Madding Crowd

Hardy, Thomas: Return of the Native

Hardy, Thomas: The Mayor of Casterbridge

Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D'Urbevilles

Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure

Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter

Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables

Kipling, Rudyard: The Jungle Books (2 vols)

Manzoni, Alessandro: The Betrothed

Melville, Herman: Moby Dick

Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe

Scott, Sir Walter: Waverley

Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein

Stendhal: The Red and the Black

Stendhal: The Charterhouse of Parma

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Treasure Island

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Kidnapped

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Stoker, Bram: Dracula
Thackeray, William: Vanity Fair

Thoreau, Henry: Walden

Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace

Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina

Trollope, Anthony: The Barchester novels (6 vols, 2 read)

Trollope, Anthony: The Palliser novels (6 vols)

Trollope, Anthony: The Way We Live Now

Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Verne, Jules: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Verne, Jules: Around the World in 80 Days

Wells, HG: The Time Machine

Wells, HG: The Invisible Man

Wells, HG: The War of the Worlds

Wordsworth, William: The Prelude

Zola, Emile: L'Assommoir

Zola, Emile: Nana

Zola, Emile: Germinal

Zola, Emile: La Bete Humaine


1900-1939 (59)

Bennett, Arnold: The Old Wives' Tale

Bowen, Elizabeth: The Death of the Heart

Buchan, John: The Thirty-Nine Steps

Buchan, John: John Macnab

Cather, Willa: The Prairie trilogy (3 vols, 2 read)

Cather, Willa: Death Comes to the Archbishop

Chandler, Raymond: The Big Sleep

Childers, Erskine: The Riddle of the Sands

du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca

Faulkner, William: As I Lay Dying

Fitzgerald, F Scott: The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald, F Scott: Tender is the Night

Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier

Ford, Ford Madox: Parade's End ( 4 vols)

Forster, EM: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Forster, EM: A Room With A View

Forster, EM: Howards End

Forster, EM: A Passage to India

Galsworthy, John: The Forsyte Saga (3 vols)

Gibbons, Stella: Cold Comfort Farm

Hemingway, Ernest: A Farewell To Arms

Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World

Isherwood, Christopher: The Berlin Stories

Kipling, Rudyard: Puck of Pook's Hill (2 vols)

Lawrence, DH: Sons and Lovers

Lawrence, DH: The Rainbow

Lawrence, DH: Women in Love

Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street

Mann, Thomas: The Magic Mountain

Mann, Thomas: Buddenbrooks

Maugham, W Somerset: Of Human Bondage

Milne, AA: Winnie-the-Pooh (2 vols)

Mitchell, Margaret: Gone With the Wind

Priestley, JB: Good Companions

Priestley, JB: Angel Pavement

Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons

Remarque, Erich Maria: All Quiet on the Western Front

Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men

Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath

Undset, Sigrid: Kristin Lavransdatter

Watson, Winifred: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth

Wharton, Edith: The Age of Innocence

Wister, Owen: The Virginian

Woolf, Virginia: Mrs Dalloway

Woolf, Virginia: To The Lighthouse

Woolf, Virginia: Orlando

Woolf, Virginia: The Waves

Woolf, Virginia: The Years


1940-1969 (62)

Agee, James: A Death in the Family

Asimov, Isaac: The Foundation Trilogy (3 vols)

Asimov, Isaac: I, Robot

Bassani, Giorgio: The Garden of the Finzi-Contis

Bellow, Saul: The Adventures of Augie March

Bowen, Elizabeth: The Heat of the Day

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and Margarita

Camus, Albert: L'Etranger

Camus, Albert: The Plague

Capote, Truman: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Capote, Truman: In Cold Blood

Chandler, Raymond: Farewell My Lovely

Chandler, Raymond: The Long Goodbye

de Beauvoir, Simone: The Mandarins

Fowles, John: The French Lieutenant's Woman

Golding, William: Lord of the Flies

Grass, Gunter: The Tin Drum

Greene, Graham: The Power and The Glory

Greene, Graham: The End of the Affair

Greene, Graham: The Heart of the Matter

Heinlein, Robert: Stranger in a Strange Land

Heller, Joseph: Catch-22

Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Hemingway, Ernest: The Old Man and the Sea

Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Koestler, Arthur: Darkness at Noon

Lampedusa, Giuseppe di: The Leopard

Lee, Harper: To Kill A Mockingbird

Lessing, Doris: The Golden Notebook

Lowry, Malcolm: Under the Volcano

Macauley, Rose: The Towers of Trebizond

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia: One Hundred Years of Solitude

McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Mitford, Nancy: The Pursuit of Love

Mitford, Nancy: Love in a Cold Climate

Naipaul, VS: A House for Mr Biswas

Orwell, George: Animal Farm

Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four

Pagnol, Marcel: L'Eau des Collines (2 vols)

Peake, Mervyn: The Gormenghast trilogy (3 vols)

Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar

Portis, Charles: True Grit

Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea

Smith, Dodie: I Capture the Castle

Spark, Muriel: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Steinbeck, John: Cannery Row

Sutcliffe, Rosemary: The Eagle of the Ninth

Tolkien, JRR: The Lord of the Rings (3 vols)

Warren, Robert Penn: All The King's Men

Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited

Woolf, Virginia: Between the Acts

Wyndham, John: Day of the Triffids

Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos

Wyndham, John: The Chrysalids

Yates, Richard: Revolutionary Road


1970-1999 (127)

Ackroyd, Peter: Hawksmoor

Adams, Douglas: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits

Amis, Martin: London Fields

Atwood, Margaret: Alias Grace

Bainbridge, Beryl: Every Man for Himself

Bainbridge, Beryl: An Awfully Big Adventure

Banks, Russell: Cloudsplitter

Barker, Pat: Regeneration

Brown, George Mackay: Beside the Ocean of Time

Brown, George Mackay: Greenvoe

Brown, George Mackay: Vinland

Byatt, AS: Possession

Carey, Peter: Jack Maggs

Carey, Peter: Oscar and Lucinda

Carr, JL: A Month in the Country

Carter, Angela: Nights at the Circus

Carter, Angela: Wise Children

Chatwin, Bruce: On the Black Hill

Cunningham, Michael: The Hours

DeLillo, Don: Underworld

Doctorow, EL: Ragtime

Duras, Marguerite: The Lover

Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose

Ellroy, James: The Black Dahlia

Eugenides, Jeffrey: The Virgin Suicides

Farrell, JG: The Siege of Krishnapur

Fitzgerald, Penelope: Offshore

Fitzgerald, Penelope: The Beginning of Spring

Ford, Richard: The Bascombe novels (4 vols, 1 read)

Golding, William: Rites of Passage

Hoeg, Peter: A History of Danish Dreams

Hoeg, Peter: Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow

Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany

Hulme, Keri: The Bone People

Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible

Le Carre, John: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Le Carre, John: Smiley's People

Le Carre: The Honourable Schoolboy

Lively, Penelope: Moon Tiger

Maclean, Norman: A River Runs Through It

Mantel, Hilary: A Place of Greater Safety

McCarthy, Cormac: Blood Meridian

McCarthy, Cormac: The Border trilogy (3 vols, 1 read)

McMurtry, Larry: Lonesome Dove

Mistry, Rohinton: A Fine Balance

Moorcock, Michael: Mother London

Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon

Morrison, Toni: Beloved

Murdoch, Iris: The Sea, The Sea

Naipaul, VS: A Bend in the River

O'Brian, Patrick: The Aubrey-Maturin sequence (20 vols, 8 read)

Ondaatje, Michael: The English Patient

Palliser, Charles: The Quincunx

Perec, Georges: Life, A User's Manual

Powell, Anthony: A Dance to the Music of Time (12 vols)

Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News

Proulx, Annie: Close Range, Wyoming Stories

Pullman, Philip: His Dark Materials (3 vols)

Pynchon, Thomas: Mason and Dixon

Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping

Roth, Philip: American Pastoral

Roy, Arundhati: The God of Small Things

Rushdie, Salman: Midnight's Children

Scott, Paul: The Raj quartet (4 vols)

Seth, Vikram: A Suitable Boy

Shaara, Michael: The Killer Angels

Shields, Carol: The Stone Diaries

Smiley, Jane: A Thousand Acres

Stephenson, Neal: Cryptonomicron

Stephenson, Neal: The Baroque cycle (3 vols)

Swift, Graham: Waterland

Tartt, Donna: The Secret History

Taylor, Elizabeth: Blaming

Taylor, Elizabeth: A View of the Harbour

Tyler, Anne: Breathing Lessons

Tyler, Anne: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Updike, John: Rabbit Angstrom (4 vols)

Updike, John: The Witches of Eastwick

Walker, Alice: The Color Purple

Winterson, Jeanette: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Wolf, Tom: The Bonfire of the Vanities


2000-now (38)

Adichie, Chimamamda Ngozi: Half of a Yellow Sun

Atkinson, Kate: Life after Life

Carey, Peter: The True Story of the Kelly Gang

Chabon, Michael: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Catton, Eleanor: The Luminaries

Doctorow, EL: The March

Eugenides, Jeffrey: Middlesex

Evaristo, Bernardine: Girl, Woman, Other

Franzen, Jonathan: The Corrections

Haddon, Mark: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Ivey, Eowyn: To The Bright Edge of the World

Jensen, Carsten: We, The Drowned

Jones, Edward: The Known World

Kehlmann, Daniel: Measuring the World

Kempowski, Walter: All For Nothing

Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible

Levy, Andrea: Small Island

Mantel, Hilary: The Thomas Cromwell trilogy (3 vols, 1 read)

McCarthy, Cormac: The Road

Miller, Andrew: Oxygen

Miller, Andrew: Pure

Mitchell, David: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Oates, Joyce Carol: Blonde

Perry, Sarah: The Essex Serpent

Powers, Richard: The Overstory

Robinson, Marilynne: Gilead

Russo, Richard: Empire Falls

Sebald, WG: Austerlitz

Smith, Zadie: White Teeth

Strout, Elizabeth: Olive Kitteridge

Tartt, Donna: The Goldfinch

Thompson, Harry: This Thing of Darkness

Toibin, Colm: Brooklyn

Towles, Amos: A Gentleman in Moscow

Trevor, William: The Story of Lucy Gault

Whitehead, Colson: The Underground Railway




Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Big Reading List - Non-Fiction


Total = 383 (Read 47)
Abulafiah, David: The Boundless Sea

Ackerman, Jennifer: The Genius of Birds

Ackroyd, Peter: London, The Biography

Ackroyd, Peter: Dickens

Adamson, John: The Noble Revolt

Aldrich, Richard and Rory Cormac: The Black Door

Barton, John: A History of the Bible

Barzun, Jacques: From Dawn to Decadence

Bate, Jonathan: John Clare

Beevor, Antony: Stalingrad

Bird, Isabella: A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Bird, Kai and Martin Sherwen: American Prometheus

Blanning, Tim: The Pursuit of Glory

Boorstin, Daniel: The Discoverers

Bradley, Simon: The Railways

Braudel, Fernand: Civilization and Capitalism

Braudel, Fernand: The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World

Braudel, Fernand: The Identify of France (2 vols)

Brendon, Piers: The Dark Valley

Brewer, John: Pleasures of the Imagination

Brotton, Jerry: A History of the World in Twelve Maps

Brown, Hamish: Hamish's Mountain Walk

Cain, Susan: Quiet

Campbell, John: Margaret Thatcher (2 vols)

Cannadine, David: Victorious Century

Chatwin, Bruce: In Patagonia

Chatwin, Bruce: The Songlines

Chernow, Ron: Alexander Hamilton
Cherry-Garrard, Apsley: The Worst Journey in the World

Clarke, Christopher: The Sleepwalkers

Clarke, Christopher: The Iron Kingdom

Clarke, Peter: Hope and Glory

Clayton, Tim: Waterloo

Cocker, Mark: Crow Country

Cocker, Mark: Our Place

Colley, Linda: Britons

Collins, Michael: Carrying the Fire

Cooke, Alastair: Memories of the Great and Good

Cooke, Alastair: Letter from America

Criado-Perez, Caroline: Invisible Women

Cruickshank, Dan: The Secret History of Georgian London

Cruickshank, Dan: Spitalfields

Cunliffe, Barry: Britain Begins

Dallek, Robert: Kennedy, An Unfinished Life

Dalrymple, William: In Xanadu

Dangerfield, George: The Strange Death of Liberal England

Davis, Wade: Into the Silence

de Saint-Exupery, Antoine: Wind, Sand and Stars

Diamond, Jared: Guns, Germs and Steel

Dowden, Richard: Africa - Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

Ellis, Richard: On Thin Ice

Evans, Richard: The Third Reich (3 vols)

Evans, Richard: The Pursuit of Power

Fadiman, Anne: Ex Libris

Fagan, Brian: The Little Ice Age

Fernandez-Armisto, Felipe: Millennium

Feynman, Richard: Six Easy Pieces

Feynman, Richard: Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman

Fisher, HAL: A History of Europe (3 vols)

Fleming, Peter: The Snow Leopard

Foote, Shelby: The Civil War (3 vols)

Foreman, Amanda: The World on Fire

Fortey, Richard: The Earth

Fox, Robin Lane: The Classical World

Frankopan, Peter: The Silk Roads

Frater, Alexander: Chasing the Monsoon

Freeman, Charles: The Greek Achievement

Galbraith, JK: The Great Crash

Gattrell, Vic: City of Laughter

Gellhorn, Martha: Travels with Myself and Another

Gibbons, Edward: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vols)

Goodwin, Doris: Team of Rivals

Gordon, Charlotte: Romantic Outlaws

Gordon, JG: Structures

Gould, Peter: Mental Maps

Gould, Stephen Jay: Bully for Brontosaurus

Gould, Stephen Jay: Eight Little Piggies

Gould, Stephen Jay: Panda's Thumb, The

Graham-Dixon, Andrew: Caravaggio, A Life Sacred and Profane

Graves, Robert: Goodbye To All That

Hanff, Helen: 84 Charing Cross Road

Hansen, James: First Man

Harari, Yuvan Noah: Sapiens

Harding, Thomas: The House By The Lake

Hill, Rosemary: God's Architect

Hillaby, John: Journey through Britain

Hillaby, John: Journey through Europe

Holland, James: Normandy '44

Holland, James: The War in the West (3 vols)

Holmes, Richard: The Age of Wonder

Hoskins, WG: The Making of the English Landscape

Howell, Georgina: Daughter of the Desert

Huntford, Roland: Nansen

Huntford, Roland: Shackleton

Hughes, Robert: The Fatal Shore

Inwood, Stephen: A History of London

Jardine, Lisa: Ingenious Pursuits

Jardine, Lisa: Worldly Good

Jardine, Lisa: Going Dutch

Johnson, Paul: The Birth of the Modern

Johnson, Samuel: A Journey to the Western Isles

Judt, Tony: Postwar

Junger, Sebastian: The Perfect Storm

Keegan, John: The Face of Battle

Keegan, John: The First World War

Kempe, Frederick: Berlin 1961

Kershaw, Ian: Hitler

Koestler, Arthur: The Sleepwalkers

Korda, Michael: Hero

Kynaston, Davide: Tales of New Jerusalem (5 vols)

Lawrence, TE: Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Lee, Hermione: Virginia Woolf

Levi, Primo: If This Is A Man

Levi, Primo: The Periodic Table

Levitin, Daniel: The Organized Mind

Lewis-Stempel, John: Meadowland

Lieven, Dominic: Russia Against Napoleon

Liptrot, Amy: The Outrun

Lopez, Barry: Arctic Dreams

Mabey, Richard: Gilbert White

Macauley, Thomas: The History of England (5 vols)

MacCulloch, Diarmaid: A History of Christianity

MacCulloch, Diarmaid: Reformation

Macfarlane, Robert: The Wild Places

Macfarlane, Robert: The Old Ways

Macfarlane, Robert: Underland

Macgregor, Neil: Germany, Memories of a Nation

Maclean Rory: Berlin, Imagine A City

Macmillan, Margaret: The Peacemakers

Magris, Claudio: The Danube

Mak, Geert: In Europe

Malcolm, Noel: Agents of Empire

Massie, Robert: Dreadnought

Massie, Robert: Castles of Steel

Maurois, Andre: The History of France

Mawdsley, Evan: The War for the Seas

McPhee, John: Coming into the Country

McPherson, James: Battle Cry for Freedom

Mehta, Suketu: Maximum City

Moorhead, Caroline: Dancing to the Precipice

Morris, James: Pax Britannica trilogy (3 vols)

Morris, Jan: Venice

Muir, John: My First Summer in the Sierra

Muir, Rory: Wellington (2 vols)

Mynott, Jeremy: Birdscapes

Newby, Eric: A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

Nicolson, Adam: The Seabird's Cry

Norwich, John Julius: Byzantium

Norwich, John Julius: A History of Venice

Ornstein, Robert: New World, New Mind

Orwell, George: Homage to Catalonia

Paine, Lincoln: The Sea and Civilization

Pakenham, Thomas: The Scramble for Africa

Parker, Geoffrey: Global Crisis

Pepys, Samuel: The Diary (10 vols)

Pinker, Stephen: The Language Instinct

Pritchett, VS: London Perceived

Pyne, Stephen: The Ice

Raban, Jonathan: Coasting

Raban, Jonathan: Old Glory

Raban, Jonathan: Passage to Juneau

Rackham, Oliver: The History of the Countryside

Reilly, John: The Ascent of Birds

Reynolds, David: America, Empire of Liberty

Richie, Alexandra: Faust's Metropolis

Robb, Graeme: The Discovery of France

Roberts, Andrew: Churchill

Roberts, Andrew: Salisbury, Victorian Titan

Roberts, Andrew: The Storm of War

Roberts, JM: The Penguin History of the World

Roberts, JM: The Twentieth Century

Rodger, NAM: A Naval History of Britain (2 vols)

Russell, Mary: The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt

Rutherford, Adam: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

Sandbrook, Dominic: Post-war Britain sequence (5 vols, 1 read)

Sands, Phillipe: East West Street

Sassoon, Donald: The Culture of the Europeans

Schama, Simon: Citizens

Schama, Simon: The Embarrassment of Riches

Schama, Simon: Landscape and Memory

Schumacher, EF: Small is Beautiful

Sebald, WG: The Rings of Saturn

Shepherd, Nan: The Living Mountain

Shirer, William: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Simpson, Joe: Touching the Void

Sinclair, Iain: London Orbital

Smith, Michael: Shackleton, By Endurance We Conquer

Spufford, Francis: I May Be Some Time

Stark, Freya: The Southern Gates of Arabia

Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley

Stevenson, David: 1914-1918

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Travels with a Donkey

Sugden, John: Nelson (2 vols)

Sumption, Jonathan: The Hundred Years' War (4 vols)

Taylor, Craig: Londoners

Theroux, Paul: The Great Railway Bazaar

Theroux, Paul: Dark Star Safari

Thesiger, Wilfred: Arabian Sands

Thesiger, Wilfred: The Marsh Arabs

Thoreau, Henry David: Walden

Thubron, Colin: Shadow of the Silk Road

Thubron, Colin: Behind the Wall

Tillyard, Stella: Aristocrats

Tomalin, Claire: Jane Austen

Tomalin, Claire: Samuel Pepys, The Unequalled Self

Tombs, Robert: The English and their History

Tree, Isabella: Wilding

Tremlett, Giles: Ghosts of Spain

Tuchman, Barbara: A Distant Mirror

Tuchman, Barbara: The Proud Tower

Tuchman, Barbara: The Guns of August

Uglow, Jenny: Hogarth

Uglow, Jenny: The Lunar Men

Uglow, Jenny: The Pinecone

Unsworth, Walt: Everest

Walker, Matthew: Why We Sleep

Watson, Alexander: Ring of Steel

Watson, James: The Double Helix

Watson, Peter: Ideas, A History

Watson, Peter: A Terrible Beauty

Watson, Peter: The German Genius

Wedgewood, CV: The Thirty Years' War

Wedgewood, CV: The English Civil War (3 vols)

Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on Reading Jane Austen

Wheeler, Sar: Terra Incognita

White, Gilbert: A Natural History of Selborne

White, Jerry: London trilogy (3 vols)

Wilford, John Noble: The Mapmakers

Wilkinson, Matt: Restless Creatures

Wilson, Ben: Empire of the Deep

Wilson, Peter: The Holy Roman Empire

Worsley, Frank: Shackleton's Boat Journey

Wulf, Andrea: The Invention of Nature

Young, Gavin: Slow Boats to China

Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Review of 2019, Preview of 2020

It was a funny old year.  Intended as one where I concentrated on more of my bigger tomes, and thus likely to see an overall reduction in books read, it certainly started that way:  January was the first month since keeping records where I only completed one book, most of the month focused on the Trollopian doorstopper, The Way We Live Now (and a good read it was too!).  After that, though, the big book focus seemed to slide off a bit (not least with book group choices to get through) and the year started to pick up speed, so much so that by the end the total had reached my second highest number of books ever, 75, although only third ranking on pages (22400 in round terms).  Admittedly it did include a number of biggies, but nowhere near as many as intended.


Perhaps the most significant trend was the continuing rise in the proportion of non-fiction books, up from last year's high of 42% to 49%, or just one less than fiction (37 vs 38).  Having said that, whilst last year non-fiction books dominated the accolades, this year saw fiction make a comeback, with Girl, Woman, Other coming out on top (a rare year where I agree with the Booker judges!), in front of the gripping Gertrude Bell biography by Georgina Howell, Daughter of the Desert; three of the four new 6-star books were novels too.  Otherwise, there was little change in the profile of my reading, although, in line with popular trends, I appear to be using my e-reader less year on year, and turning back to 'proper' books.  Female authors represented around 40% of my reading, and around a quarter of my books were borrowed from the library, not dissimilar to other recent years.  I would like to increase both numbers, although with a substantial backlog of my own books to get through, the latter may not change for a while.


In terms of the various challenges I set myself (other than more doorstoppers!), some progress was made on most fronts, but in all cases it would be good to have done more.  In particular, I'd like to make bigger inroads in 2020 into my tour of the USA, where 4 books were completed (admittedly double last year, and including the epic Lonesome Dove).  At 15 of the 50 now read, completion date at current rates is still some years off.


The accolades listed in the following post highlight the books that made the biggest impact on me this year, both positive and negative.  It was good to get just 2 1-star books this year - both thoroughly deserving of their scores it has to be said!  A new 'award' has been introduced this year - Discovery of the Year - a new one always one of the best experiences one can have in reading.  Last year it would have gone to Willa Cather (and Elizabeth Taylor would have been in there in previous years), but the first winner is George Mackay Brown, an author who I was introduced to by a book group choice, and whose work I'm really looking forward to exploring if this year's experiences are anything to go by.


So, what of next year?  I'm almost reluctant to set any goals, as they are almost a guarantee that I won't achieve them, if recent years are anything to go by again, but, probably foolishly, I'll give it a go. They are all too similar to those of other years:


 - To make some inroads into my backlog of doorstoppers (one every two months?)

 - To get a good number of states under my belt in my tour of the USA (can I reach half way?)

 - To buy less and use the library more


All a bit vague and repetitive perhaps, but my only other 'goal' is to keep on enjoying reading, and too many precise goals to get hung up over will inevitably impact on that (negatively!).


To that end, I've further slimmed down the lists in the preliminary posts, particularly all those 'Before You Die' ones.  They're interesting enough, and good for ideas, but otherwise, as someone on these boards recently said, 'they're just lists'.  Now I enjoy lists, but these were somebody else's lists, not mine, so if I'm going to have them, I'd generally rather focus on my lists! So, out they go, and, instead, I'm going to look at creating my own personal version of '1001 books to read'.  In fact, it probably won't be 1001 books long, and it will almost certainly not have the diversity of the original lists, but at least all the books are of interest to me. So, it'll be a list of books I've either read, and feel were essential to my adult reading development (and/or loved!), or books that I feel I want and 'need' to read.  It will include both fiction and non-fiction, but otherwise pretty much anything goes at present. What I can pretty much guarantee is that it won't be balanced or all-encompassing, but it will be personal, and live as a work in progress!  


Later edit:  List now created, standing at 773 books, split roughly equally between fiction and nonfiction (that's more coincidence than planned!).  What's noticeable, is that as of the end of January, I've read only 47 of the nonfiction list, but 148 of the fiction list, so I need to make some inroads into the former - but I knew that already, and have been meaning to do so for years. Hopefully these numbers will stimulate a bit of action!




Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Accolades for 2019


Book of the Year

1.  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

2.  Daughter of the Desert by Georgina Howell

3.  Lonesome Dove  by Larry McMurtry


Fiction Book of the Year

Winner: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Runner-up: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry  



Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Now We Shall be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller

Beside the Ocean of Time by George Mackay Brown


Non-fiction Book of the Year

Winner: Daughter of the Desert by Georgina Howell

Runner-up:  The Five by Hallie Rubenheld



The Prime Ministers by Steve Richards

Icebreaker by Horatio Clare


Duffer of the Year

Winner:  I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Shortlist:  The Widow by Fional Barton


Discovery of the Year

George Mackay Brown


Most Disappointing of the Year

The Making of the British Landscape by Nicholas Crane


Reread of the Year

Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond





Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to my reading blog for 2020. This thread is now open!

Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Reading in 2020!


I really enjoyed reading your Review of 2019, Preview of 2020 post. It's great you had only 2 1-star reads in 2019. I hope you'll do well on your goals for 2020, with the States of USA tour etc.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope you have a great reading year @willoyd!

I think it's nice to have some vague goals. I find it fun to work towards some reading goals but if they're too specific they just become a chore. 


I look forward to finding out what 2020's 'Discovery of the Year' will be!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck with your reading year. It's good to see someone else on here reading as much non fiction as I do.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Brian. said:

Good luck with your reading year. It's good to see someone else on here reading as much non fiction as I do.


Thank you.  And first read of this year is non-fiction too: Philip Marsden's The Summer Isles, the story of his journey up from Cornwall to the Summer Isles off the west coast of Scotland, via the west coast of Ireland.  Only 70-80 pages in, but this isn't one to rush!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden *****

 A Christmas present, this is an account of a sailing voyage the author, who had never before skippered anything more than day trips before, made from Cornwall to the Summer Isles, via the west coast of Ireland.  It was made in memory of his aunt, who was killed in a walking accident on Ben More Assynt, and with whom he had always intended to visit the islands.


This could have been a fairly standard account - there is a myriad of similar books - but the quality of  writing, the fascinating people he encounters, and the deep sense of how personal this was that pervades both narrative and journey, all makes for something distinctly greater.  My only 'complaint' is that there is, in fact, very little about the Summer Isles themselves, barely a couple of pages, if that; this should have been entitled 'Journey to....'. Oh, and whilst there are a couple of illustrative maps at the front, yet again a book about something so spatial is completely inadequately mapped.  What is it about publishers - are we so map illiterate nowadays that they are almost completely forgotten, and even when not, so inadequately developed? It's not as if they require any further expense, unlike photos.  Although, on that subject, a few illustrations wouldn't have gone amiss either, particularly of  people mentioned.  But nothing should take away from the writing, which made for a superb start to the New Year's reading.


Next book: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (Book group selection)

Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

New Year acquisitions

A few books acquired in first three weeks of the year:


Charity shops

The White King by Leada De Lisle (biography of Charles I)

Everyman for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (hardback, 1st edition) *

Among Muslims by Kathleen Jamie

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (Everyman Classic) *

The Prize of All the Oceans by Glyn Williams

Close Ranges, Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx *


Kindle Sale

1989 The Berlin Wall, My Part in It's Downfall by Peter Millar


Early Season sales

Underland by Robert Macfarlane *

Lotharingia by Simon Winder


* Books on my Big Read list


On that note, Big Reading list is now collated: 773 books in total, roughly evenly split between fiction and nonfiction.  However, noteable how few nonfiction books read (47) compared to fiction (148), so aim to make some progress on the former this year.  List is fluid though, and subject to revision.

Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/01/2020 at 9:55 AM, willoyd said:

1989 The Berlin Wall, My Part in It's Downfall by Peter Millar


Checked checked this out and it looks really good, I'll have to get a copy for myself.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading Update


Two more books finished in the past couple of weeks:

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Charles I, An Abbreviated Life by Mark Kishlansky


Both good reads (the former excellent), and reviews will follow in due course - it's all a bit frantic at the moment.  I'm currently reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton for one of my book groups, but whilst I like what I've read so far, I'm struggling a bit to get into it - too many distractions, and bit daunting (750+ fairly densely printed pages).


A few more book acquisitions in the past 10 days - partly because I succumbed to the temptation of a local library sale with some quite nice condition hardback volumes going for silly (50p) prices (and not ex-library either) - these marked *. The rest from an Oxfam raid. Particularly pleased with the JB Priestley whose writing I'm definitely getting into, whilst the Maigret's were pristine - surely unread.



All Among the Barley - Melissa Harrison*

Festival at Farbridge - JB Priestley

Maigret's Patience - Georges Simenon

Maigret and the Loner - Georges Simenon

Maigret and the Wine Merchant - Georges Simenon



The Other Side of Eden - Hugh Brody*

Lawrence in Arabia - Scott Anderson*

Wartime Britain - Juliet Gardiner*

This is London - Ben Judah





Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading Update mid-February


Gosh it's gone awfully quiet here, not least on this thread, so a quick update after a three week hiatus:


I'm still reading Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries and, to be honest, have not made huge progress, as am not quite half way through yet (around p. 350).  That's not a problem with the book - far from it - but I've had a fairly frantic month, which is likely to carry on for another week or so. Indeed, I'm in danger of actually reaching the end of the month without a single book completed, which would be a first for at least 12 years!  Big book + lots of work = not a good formula!


In the meantime, I've still managed a few acquisitions (surprise, surprise!), mostly through charity shops (not the Kindles!):


Fiction and Poetry

The Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris

The Night Manager by John Le Carre

Wing by Matthew Francis (poetry)

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine (Kindle)



Sagaland by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason

(travels in search of the sagas in Iceland)


Leviathan by David Scott

(history - how the British Empire was founded)


Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts

(as if I haven't enough humungous sized books to read!)


Incredible Journeys by David Barrie

(Kindle - animal navigation)

Edited by willoyd

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now