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Book List 2014


Previous book lists: 2009, 2010-2011, 2012, 2013



1. Under Another Sky - Charlotte Higgins (Jan 4) *****

2. The Romans Who Shaped Britain - Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard (Jan 10) ****



3. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens (Feb 3) *****

4. Darwin - Adrian Desmond and James Moore (Feb 27) ****

5. The Late Monsieur Gallet - Georges Simenon (Feb 28) ***



6. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (Mar 3) *****

7. A Commonplace Killing - Sian Busby (Mar 7) G **

8. Dune - Frank Herbert (Mar 14) RC ******

9. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Mar 20) ******

10. It's All Greek to Me - Charlotte Higgins (Mar 22) ***

11. What Maisie Knew - Henry James (Mar 29) ***



12. Explorers of the Nile - Tim Jeal (Apr 12) ****

13. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (Apr 14) G *****

14. A Very Long Engagement - Sebastien Japrisot (Apr 26) RC ******

15. The Return of the Soldier - Rebecca West (Apr 27) C ***



16. When God was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman (May 4) G ****

17. Red Nile - Robert Twigger (May 18) ****

18. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (May 26) *****

19. The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde (May 28) ****

20. The Darling Buds of May - HE Bates (May 29) ***

21. Acts of Union and Disunion - Linda Colley (May 30) *****



22. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien - Georges Simenon (Jun 27) ****

23. Bottoms Up in Belgium- Alex Le Sueur (Jun 28) ***



24. The Sisters Brothers - Patrick de Witt (Jul 21) **

25. Silas Marner - George Eliot (Jul 25) RG ****

26. The Spy Game - Georgina Harding (Jul 30) ***



27. Slow Train to Switzerland - Diccon Bewes (Aug 2) *****

28. On the Road Bike - Ned Boulting (Aug 8) ****

29. The Pursuit of Glory - Tim Blanning (Aug 10) ******

30. Miss Jemima's Swiss Journal - Jemima Morrell (Aug 13) ****

31. Offshore - Penelope Fitzgerald (Aug 15) *****

32. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Aug 17) *****

33. Night at the Crossroads - Georges Simenon (Aug 18) ****

34. Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (Aug 23) ******

35. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell (Aug 25) ***



36. Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man - Claire Tomalin (Sep 13) *****

37. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (Sep 14) RG ***

38. Thus Was Adonis Murdered - Sarah Caudwell (Sep 19) **

39. The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert (Sep 29) ****



40. The Year After - Martin Davies (Oct 5) G ****

41. Watership Down - Richard Adams (Oct 19) R ***

42. The Potter's Hand - AN Wilson (Oct 29) *****

43. A Crime in Holland - Georges Simenon (Oct 31) ****



44. The Fears of Henry IV - Ian Mortimer (Nov 8) ***

45. Moonfleet - J Meade Faulkner (Nov 12) ****

46. Barchester Towers - Anthony Trollope (Nov 20) *****

47. The Rabbit Back Literature Society - Pasi Jasskelainen (Nov 22) ***

48. Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee (Nov 29) **

49. An Awfully Big Adventure - Beryl Bainbridge (Nov 30) *****



50. Possession - AS Byatt (Dec 11) ****

51. Brighton Belle - Sara Sheridan (Dec 13) ***

52. Agnes Grey - Anne Bronte (Dec 14) ****

53. The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey (Dec 16) ***

54. Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo (Dec 19) **

55. The Longest Afternoon - Brendan Simms (Dec 19) ****

56. The Ballad of Peckham Rye - Muriel Spark (Dec 21) ****

57. A Bear Called Paddington - Michael Bond (Dec 21) R ******

58. The Nine Tailors - Dorothy Sayers (Dec 22) *****

59. The Gate of Angels - Penelope Fitzgerald (Dec 24) *****

60. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (Dec 25) R ******

61. Underground England - Stephen Smith (Dec 28) **

62. Dead White Female - Lauren Henderson (Dec 30) ***

63. Swimming to Heaven - Iain Sinclair (Dec 31) ****



Don Fernando - W Somerset Maugham (May 31) U *

The Dinner - Herman Koch (Aug 19) G *

The Innocence of Father Brown - GK Chesterton (Nov 15) **



* Disliked this, rarely finished.

** Disappointing, may be unfinished.

*** OK, a decent enough read.

**** Good, an involving read, hard to put down.

***** Excellent, outstanding.

****** An all-time favourite.

U=unfinished, A=audiobook, R=reread, G=read for book group, C=read for online reading circle

Edited by willoyd
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Books rated as 6-stars


A record of the 92 books I've given my top rating to:


Fiction (63)

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

Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights

Buchan, John: John Macnab

Carr JL: A Month in the Country

Carr JL: The Harpole Report

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

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: Bleak House

Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield

Dunant, Sarah: In the Company of the Courtesan

Elphinstone, Margaret: The Sea Road

Elphinstone, Margaret: Voyageurs

Ewing, Barbara: Rosetta

Greig, Andrew: The Return of John MacNab

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

Hardy, Thomas: Far From The Madding Crowd

Herbert, Frank: Dune

Horwood, William: Skallagrig

Hulme, Keri: Bone People

Japrisot, Sebastian: A Very Long Engagement

Kipling, Rudyard: Puck of Pook's Hill/Rewards and Fairies

Lee, Harper: To Kill A Mockingbird

Mantel, Hilary: Wolf Hall

Melville, Herman: Moby Dick

Milne, AA: Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner

Mitchell, David: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Miller, Andrew: Pure

Monsarrat, Nicholas: The Cruel Sea

Moorcock, Michael: Mother London

O'Brian, Patrick: The Mauritius Command

Pears, Ian: An Instance of the Fingerpost

Penney, Stef: The Tenderness of Wolves

Pullman, Philip: Northern Lights

Rushdie, Salman: Midnight's Children

Seth, Vikram: A Suitable Boy

Smiley, Jane: A Thousand Acres

Smith, Dodie: I Capture the Castle

Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men

Stephenson, Neal: Cryptonomicon

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Kidnapped

Thackeray, William: Vanity Fair

Thompson, Harry: This Thing of Darkness

Tolkien JRR: The Lord of the Rings

Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace

White, TH: Mistress Masham's Repose

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


Non-fiction (29)

Blanning, Tim: The Pursuit of Glory

Brown, Hamish: Hamish's Mountain Walk

Cocker, Mark: Crow Country

Dawkins, Richard: The Blind Watchmaker

Fadiman, Anne: Ex Libris

Frater, Alexander: Chasing the Monsoon

Hanff, Helen: 84 Charing Cross Road

Hastings, Max: All Hell Let Loose

Holland, James: Dam Busters

Hoskins, WG: The Making of the English Landscape

Huntford, Roland: Shackleton

Junger, Sebastian: The Perfect Storm

Longford, Elizabeth: Wellington, The Years of the Sword

Lee, Hermione: Virginia Woolf

Moore, Richard: In Search of Robert Millar

Nichols, Peter: A Voyage for Madmen

Pennac, Daniel: The Rights of the Reader

Rackham, Oliver: The History of the Countryside

Pinker, Stephen: The Language Instinct

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

Salisbury, Laney and Gay: The Cruellest Miles

Simpson, Joe: Touching the Void

Taylor, Stephen: Storm and Conquest

Tomalin, Claire: Pepys, The Unequalled Self

Uglow, Jenny: The Pinecone

Unsworth, Walt: Everest

Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen

Wheeler, Sara: Terra Incognita

Young, Gavin: Slow Boats to China

Edited by willoyd
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Non-fiction lists


No overall TBR list - that's simply the books listed on my LibraryThing account as TBR (basically all hard copy books that aren't pure reference). However, last year I started two lists to encourage reading in two areas, one being non-fiction, the other being classics.  They are now supplemented by the English Counties challenge.


The non-fiction list is split into two categories: 'doorstoppers' and Slightly Foxed editions. For the purposes of this list 'doorstoppers' are books that are generally longer than 500 pages; a few are multi-volume works. I've had a tendency to acquire them over the years, and then not get around to reading them; it's all too often easier to pick up a quicker read!


As with the classsics list in the next post, only one unread book per author is allowed on the list at any one time. Books read during the year are highlighted; books read from previous years are listed at the end. It's thus not a list that's likely to be completed as it'll be refreshed at least annually, but then the aim isn't completion, but to encourage reading this sort of book more often.


I've also been collecting the series of memoirs being published by Slightly Foxed (possibly my favourite 'magazine', if that is how such a beautiful production can be described), but have barely made any inroads to them, so am going to give them a go this year (I said this last year, but failed miserably!).




History (50)

The Noble Revolt by John Adamson

The Pursuit of Glory by Tim Blanning ******

The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin

The Identity of France, v1: History and Environment by Fernand Braudel

World Crisis, v1: 1911-1914 by Winston Churchill

The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clarke

The Seven Years War by Julian Corbett

Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies

The Penguin History of Modern China by Jonathan Fenby

The People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes

A History of Europe, v1: Ancient and Medieval by HAL Fisher

The Civil War, v1: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote

The World on Fire by Amanda Foreman

The Thirties by Juliet Gardner

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire v1 by Edward Gibbons

The Presidents by Stephen Graubard

Christendom Destroyed by Mark Greengrass

Catastrophe by Max Hastings

High Minds by Simon Heffer

The Battle of Britain by James Holland

The Histories by Herodotus

The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk

The Birth of the Modern by Paul Johnson

Postwar by Tony Judt

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence

The History of England v1 by Thomas Macauley

Reformation: Europe's House Divided by Diarmid Macculloch

Scotland: The Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson

The History of Germany since 1789 by Golo Mann

The Line Upon the Wind by Noel Mostert

Pax Britannica, v1: Heaven's Command by Jan Morris

The History of Venice by John Julius Norwich

The Sea and Civilisation by Lincoln Paine

The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham

Global Catastrophe by Geoffrey Parker

The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor

Africa, A Biography of the Continent by John Reader

America, Empire of Liberty by David Reynolds

The Penguin History of the World by JM Roberts

The England of Elizabeth by AL Rowse

Never Had It So Good by Dominic Sandbrook

The Culture of the Europeans by Donald Sassoon

An Embarrassment of Riches by Simon Schama

The Hundred Years' War, v1: Trial by Battle by Jonathan Sumption

Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas

The German Genius by Peter Watson

The Thirty Years War by CV Wedgwood

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson

Europe's Tragedy by Peter H Wilson


Biography (15)

Dickens by Peter Ackroyd

The Brontes by Juliet Barker

Darwin by Adrian Desmond and James Moore ****

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Titian by Sheila Hale

Nikolaus Pevsner by Susan Harries

God's Architect by Rosemary Hill

Stanley by Tim Jeal

Churchill by Roy Jenkins

Hitler by Ian Kershaw

The Pursuit of Victory by Roger Knight

Wellington, The Path to Victory by Rory Muir

Queen Anne by Anne Somerset

Bismarck by Jonathan Steinberg

Elizabeth Gaskell by Jenny Uglow

Salisbury by Andrew Young


Travel and Exploration (5)

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

In Europe by Geert Mak

Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

Old Glory by Jonathan Raban


Read in 2013

Seasons in the Sun by Dominic Sandbrook *****

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones ****



Slightly Foxed Editions

01. Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliff ***

02. My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt

03. A Cab at the Door by VS Pritchett

04. A Boy at the Hogarth Press & A Parcel of Time by Richard Hoggart ***

05. A Late Beginner by Priscilla Napier

06. Corduroy by Adrian Bell

07. The Missing Will by Michael Wharton

08. Another Self by James Lee-Milne

09. The High Path by Ted Walker

10. A House in Flanders by Michael Jenkins

11. A Sort of Life by Graham Green

12. The Young Ardizzone by Edward Ardizzone

13. People Who Say Goodbye by PY Betts

14. Hand-grenade Practice in Peking by Frances Wood

15. Mr Tibbit's Catholic School by Ysende Maxtone Graham

16. Look Back with Love by Dodie Smith

17. Mango and Mimosa by Suzanne St Albans

18. The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley

19. A Late Education by Alan Moorehead

20. My Grandfather & Father Dear Father by Denis Constanduros

21. The Real Mrs Miniver by Ysende Graham

22. Country Boy by Richard Hillyer

23. The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg

24. Period Piece by Gwen Raverat

25. I Was A Stranger by John Hackett

26. Portrait of Elmbury by John Moore

Edited by willoyd
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Classics TBR list
The second TBR list: my list of classics to read (the definition of 'classic' has been stretched on occasions!).  Again, only one unread book/series per writer is allowed at any one time in the main list.

Books that have been read during the year are highlighted; those from previous years are listed at the end. As with the non-fiction doorstoppers, this means that the list will probably never be completed, but that isn't the aim, rather to encourage reading more classics per year!  There are currently 44 books to be read on the list.

Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoire
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte ****
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Master and Margarita by Mikhael Bulgakov (reread)
Evelina by Fanny Burney
Possession by AS Byatt ****
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (reread)
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens *****
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Howard's End by EM Forster
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell *****
To The Ends of the Earth by William Golding (trilogy)
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman
Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy ******
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Dune by Frank Herbert (reread) ******
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
What Maisie Knew by Henry James ***
Ulysses by James Joyce
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence
Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (reread)
The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott
Waverley by Walter Scott
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Once and Future King by TH White
Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
La Fortune des Rougon by Emile Zola

Read in 2013
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ****** (reread)
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens ******

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James ****
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome **
The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf *****

Edited by willoyd
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Three Classics Lists


To go with my campaign to read more classics, three lists to help me as reference:

- The novels of Charles Dickens, listed in chronological order of writing.

- The Rougon-Macquart series of novels by Emile Zola, listed in the order suggested by Zola himself.

- The novels (and short stories) of Thomas Hardy, again in chronological order of writing.


Whether I get around to reading them all........!



Charles Dickens novels

01. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club ****

02. The Adventures of Oliver Twist *****

03. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby *****

04. The Old Curiosity Shop

05. Barnaby Rudge

06. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

07. Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son

08. The Personal History of David Copperfield ******

09. Bleak House ******

10. Hard Times

11. Little Dorrit

12. A Tale of Two Cities

13. Great Expectations ****

14. Our Mutual Friend

15. The Mystery of Edwin Drood


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


Thomas Hardy's novels

01. Desperate Remedies (1871)

02. Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)

03. A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)

04. Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) ******

05. The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)

06. The Return of the Native (1878) ****

07. The Trumpet Major (1880)

08. A Laodicean (1881)

09. Two on a Tower (1882)

10. The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)

11. The Woodlanders (1887)

12. Tess of the D'Urbevilles (1891)

13. Jude the Obscure (1895)

14. The Well-Beloved (1897) ***


Short Stories

15. Wessex Tales (1888)

16. A Group of Noble Dames (1891)

17. Life's Little Ironies (1894)

Edited by willoyd
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English Counties Reading Challenge (Willoyd's variation)


This is tied in with the English Counties Challenge listed in the Reading Challenge section. However, I've listed a few different books, primarily to replace books already read which I don't intend to reread (but may!), usually because I've read them too recently - these are marked with a +. Books that I've read are picked out in blue, those read this year are in bold.


Completed: 14/48


01. My Uncle Silas by H. E. Bates (Bedfordshire)

02. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Berkshire)

03. The Misses Mallett by E. H. Young (Bristol)

04. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (Buckinghamshire) ******

05. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers (Cambridgeshire) *****

06. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (Cheshire)

07. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (City of London) *****

08. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (Cornwall)

09. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome / The Maid of Buttermere by Melvyn Bragg (Cumbria)

10. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (Derbyshire)

11. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie / To Serve Them All My Days by RF Delderfield (Devon)

12. Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Dorset) ******

13. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (Durham) *****

14. South Riding by Winifred Holtby (East Riding of Yorkshire)

15. Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne (East Sussex)

16. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James (Essex) ****

17. Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee (Gloucestershire) **

18. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Greater London) +

19. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Greater Manchester) *****

20. Watership Down by Richard Adams (Hampshire) ***

21. On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (Herefordshire)

22. Howard's End by EM Forster (Hertfordshire) +

23. England, England by Julian Barnes (Isle of Wight)

24. The Darling Buds of May by HE Bates (Kent) ***

25. Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill + (Lancashire)

26. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend (Leicestershire)

27. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (Lincolnshire)

28. An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge (Merseyside) *****

29. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley (Norfolk)

30. Dracula by Bram Stoker (North Yorkshire)

31. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Northamptonshire)

32. The Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin (Northumberland)

33. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence (Nottinghamshire) +

34. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (Oxfordshire)

35. Set In Stone by Robert Goddard (Rutland)

36. Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse (Shropshire)

37. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore (Somerset)

38. A Kestrel For A Knave by Barry Hines (South Yorkshire)

39. The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett (Staffordshire)

40. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (Suffolk) ***

41. Emma by Jane Austen (Surrey)

42. Another World by Pat Barker (Tyne and Wear)

43. Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes (Warwickshire)

44. Middlemarch by George Eliot (West Midlands)

45. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (West Sussex)

46. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (West Yorkshire) *****

47. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (Wiltshire) *****

48. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (Worcestershire)

Edited by willoyd
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Books read from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
This list is taken from the Arukiyomi spreadsheet which includes the 1305 books that have featured in the 4 editions to date, using his numbering sequence, most recently published at the top.  It is kept solely for interest: I'm not attempting it as a challenge as there are far too many books on the list that I have no intention of even attempting to read, whilst there are too many others not on it (but I think should be!) that I do want to read. I do, however, have a fascination with lists, so.....

Total read = 131 out of 1305

1302.  Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes ***
1255.  The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd *****
1250  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon ******
1231.  The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor *****
1227.  Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides ****
1215.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel ****
1178  Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson ******
1167.  Amsterdam by Ian MacEwan ****
1161  The Hours by Michael Cunningham ******
1159.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver ****
1155.  Enduring Love by Ian MacEwan *
1128.  The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald ***
1127.  The Reader by Bernard Schlink *
1096  A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth ******
1075.  The Crow Road by Ian Banks ****
1073.  The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte ***
1072.  Miss Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg *****
1057.  Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell ****
1041.  Possession by AS Byatt ****
1032.  Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro ****
1005.  The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams ****
1004.  Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams ****
0962  Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd ******
0931  Waterland by Graham Swift ******
0903  Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie ******
0895  The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco ******
0883.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams *****
0830  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre ******
0782.  Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut *
0777.  The Godfather by Mario Puzo ***
0768.  2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke ****
0746.  The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov *****
0715.  The Graduate by Charles Webb ***
0713.  The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by John Le Carre **
0688.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark ****
0675  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee ******
0668.  Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee ***
0636.  Justine by Lawrence Durrell *
0630  The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien ******
0611.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding ****
0609.  The Story of O by Pauline Reage *
0605.  The Go-Between by LP Hartley **
0604.  The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler ****
0593.  Excellent Women by Barbara Pym ***
0590.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway ***
0583.  Foundation by Isaac Asimov ****
0567.  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov ****
0564  Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford ******
0560.  Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell *
0547.  The Plague by Albert Camus *
0529.  Animal Farm by George Orwell **
0527.  The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford *****
0513.  The Outsider by Albert Camus *
0505  Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf ******
0503.  Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler ****
0490.  The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler ****
0487.  Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson *****
0479  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ******
0477  The Years by Virginia Woolf ******
0476.  The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien ****
0450.  The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers ****
0440.  The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz ***
0428.  Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons *****
0420.  The Waves by Virginia Woolf *****
0416.  Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham *****
0412.  The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett ***
0403.  All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ***
0395.  Orlando by Virginia Woolf ****
0394.  Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence *
0383  To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf ******
0371.  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie ****
0367  Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf ******
0366.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald **
0347.  Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf *****
0328.  The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West ***
0316.  The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf *****
0313.  The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan ****
0295.  A Room With A View by EM Forster *****
0276.  The Call of the Wild by Jack London ****
0275.  The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers ****
0269.  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle ****
0267.  Kim by Rudyard Kipling ****
0256.  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James **** 
0250.  What Maisie Knew by Henry James ***
0249.  Dracula by Bram Stoker *****
0239.  The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith *
0238.  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle *****
0232.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde ***
0229.  La Bete Humaine by Emile Zola ****
0216.  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson ****
0213  Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson ******
0210.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain ****
0203.  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson *****
0199.  The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ***
0193.  Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy ****
0184. Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy ******
0182.  Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne ****
0177.  Middlemarch by George Eliot *****
0176.  Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll ****
0173  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy ******
0167.  The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins ****
0163.  Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne ****
0162.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ****
0155.  Silas Marner by George Eliot ***
0154.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ****
0148.  The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins *****
0143.  Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert *****
0142.  North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell *****(*)
0138  Bleak House by Charles Dickens ******
0136.  Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell ****
0132  Moby Dick by Herman Melville ******
0130  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens ******
0128.  Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell *****
0126  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ******
0125.  Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte ****
0124  Vanity Fair by Wllliam Thackeray ******
0123  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ******
0122.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas *****
0113.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens *****
0106.  The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens *****
0105.  Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens *****
0090.  Ivanhoe by Walter Scott ***
0088.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen *****
0087.  Persuasion by Jane Austen *****
0084  Emma by Jane Austen ******
0083.  Mansfield Park by Jane Austen *****
0082  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ******
0081  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ******
0045.  Candide by Voltaire ****
0031.  Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe *
0001.  Aesop's Fables by Aesopus **

Edited by willoyd
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  • 3 weeks later...

Review of 2013, Looking Forward to 2014


The year got off to a slow start, in fact the slowest start ever, mainly because I got somewhat bogged down in some rather disappointing book group reads. Indeed, by the end of February, of the seven books I'd tried, five had scored two stars or less; I had really begun to wonder whether book groups were going to be my thing or not. Fortunately, this period also included another book group choice, David Copperfield, the first six star read of the year! After that, things warmed up a bit, and 2013 turned into one of the better years in terms of both quality and quantity.


This year was meant to be more about which books I read rather than how many, with the focus on some of the classics and non-fiction doorstoppers that have been looking at me from the shelves for rather longer than I would have liked. Progress may not have been spectacular, but eight books down is better than none, and it's at least got things started. I'd like to do better in 2014 though!


Even so, and allowing for that somewhat ropey start, it's certainly felt a better year's reading this year than most previous ones. Four six-star books (plus two re-reads) is about par for the course, but there was a much higher proportion of 5-star reads than normal, making 2013 only the second year to hit the 30% mark for the top two grades. In spite of all this though, David Copperfield retained its premier status throughout the year to be my Book of the Year, although Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising and Fay Weldon's Letters to Alice both made late and rather unexpected challenges, making it a much tighter decision than I had anticipated at the start of the Christmas period!


At the other end of the scale, the ranks of duff book group choices meant that there was also a higher than average number of 'bad' reads, only 2009 seeing more 1 /2 star gradings. Duffer of the Year is a difficult one – I disliked all the one star books fairly strongly (that's why they got 1 star!) - but I'm going to give it to Gone Girl, the sole one-star book that wasn't a book group selection, mainly because of the overpowering sense of boredom and intense dislike of the main protagonists it engendered. No I don't precisely know what happened, as I didn't finish it, but I reckon I could make a pretty good guess if I was the slightest bit interested, but I'm not!


So, what of the forthcoming year? I know I've said it for at least the past couple of years, but I really do want to make some inroads into some of the less developed regions of my book shelves this year, so I'm deliberately not even going to consider what this year's overall total should be. Instead, I'm setting just one goal: at least twenty books off the challenge lists above (maybe even thirty??). I also want to see if I can create more time for reading......!



2013 Accolades


Fiction and Overall Book of the Year: David Copperfield – Charles Dickens


Fiction Runner-up: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell


Rest of the fiction shortlist:

The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

Light – Margaret Elphinstone

King Solomon's Carpet – Barbara Vine

The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber

Sacred Hearts – Sarah Dunant


Non-fiction Book of the Year: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen – Fay Weldon


Non-fiction Runner-up: The Real Jane Austen – Paula Byrne


Rest of the non-fiction shortlist:

Findings – Kathleen Jamie

Charles Dickens, A Life – Claire Tomalin

Seasons in the Sun – Dominic Sandbrook


Duffer of the Year: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Rest of the duffer shortlist:

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

The Boy Who Wore Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Starter for Ten by David Nichols

Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Edited by willoyd
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]There are bound to be duffers in 2014 ... it's all part and parcel of being a reader but I hope you have as few as possible  :D

Thank you! You're right of course - it would be awfully boring if there weren't, not least because it would mean one never tries anything new. The corollary of all those duffers is that every now and again one reads something absolutely brilliant, and one brilliant book is worth three or four duffers. Perhaps the biggest one for me last year was that David Copperfield was a book group choice. I'd started it already a couple of times and got nowhere. I was a bit more persistent this time given it was a group book, and boy did it pay dividends! I also discovered Penelope Fitzgerald that way - really enjoying exploring her work now.

Edited by willoyd
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I'm now going to go back over my 2013 reads to find a duffer of the year! :D


Happy reading in 2014 :) are you persevering with your book groups? I keep thinking I'd like to join one but then I find it hard enough to contribute to the Reading a Circle because I get distracted by other books!

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You've got your list quite organized , even by category !  I wish I were that organized.  

I have good intentions, but you know what they say about those . :negative:


Just a comment on 2 of your nonfiction books : 

 Team of Rivals  and Old Glory are both excellent . I hope you enjoy them as much as I did .


Best of luck in 2014  .

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Happy reading in 2014 :) are you persevering with your book groups? I keep thinking I'd like to join one but then I find it hard enough to contribute to the Reading a Circle because I get distracted by other books!

Thank you! I'm still active in both book groups. One I'm enjoying a lot, the other is OK, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll stick with it.

The first is a group of friends who set up their own group to encourage more reading, and who I found through my local library almost by chance: I asked the librarian if they knew of a local group with space; they didn't, but two days later emailed to say that somebody from this group had commented in passing that they were looking for a new member, so they put us in touch. We circulate round people's houses and choose books in turn (every few months we make a nomination each, they're put into a hat, and then drawn to give the order). Book choices are very varied and the discussion is really lively and fun.


The second group was one set up by the local library service; we meet in a local pub. It's fine, really nice bunch of people, but it's all a bit more serious, maybe because most people don't really know each other and it's a wee bit more formal.  The books are provided by the library service; as a result, they all feel rather samey. Have to admit, I've only really enjoyed two books so far ( one a reread!), and mildly enjoyed another. Most have been, frankly, somewhat dull, not helped by the lack of variety. But I missed a few meetings in the summer (thank goodness - the books definitely didn't appeal!), so I'm going to give it a bit more of a go before making a decision. There are rather a lot of books on my own TBR lists that I'm keen to get stuck into.....

Edited by willoyd
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I thought of joining a book group, but the thought of having to read a book I haven't chosen puts me off - makes me think of high school English.  I worry there'd be too many bad ones like you seem to have had this year. 


I loved David Copperfield, and plan to read the rest of Dickens at some point.  

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I thought of joining a book group, but the thought of having to read a book I haven't chosen puts me off - makes me think of high school English.  I worry there'd be too many bad ones like you seem to have had this year.

I understand your concerns, having had them myself. I think it's all about finding a group that's right for you. I don't mean so much the books rather the right combination of people for you (I left a group a few years ago simply because I found it way too pretentious).


Having the odd 'bad' book doesn't put me off, a big compensation being that I get introduced to other good ones that I mightn't have read at all. Actually, having the occasional bad 'un is good! It certainly leads to a much more stimulating discussion, especially if others enjoyed it. The most boring discussions are when we all like the book! I certainly don't feel obliged to finish books either, which helps.


The really big advantage of a book group is the chance to talk, face to face, with others about something you all enjoy, reading, with the advantage of having a book to focus on, about which there will almost always be a real diversity of opinion. Some of the most enjoyable evenings this year have been with my book group (especially the December, Christmas, meeting - food, fizz, and lots of fun discussion and chat: brilliant!). Some of the discussions have even changed my mind about a book; I can think of at least two where I've come away much more positive about a book than when I arrived!


I think if the book groups were my only reading, as they are for some, then I'm not sure whether I'd stick it out, but for me last year they represented a quarter of my reading (15/60), which I think is a fair proportion, and that's belonging to two groups. Of course, that means I missed some sessions. For me the personal contact with other readers is too important to miss out on.

Edited by willoyd
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Book purchases


Books bought before the end of last year, that have arrived this week:

Under Another Sky - Charlotte Higgins - bought with book token; started reading this week.

The Histories - Herodotus, tr. Tom Holland - ditto. Lates translation, that have started to dip into. 

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien - Georges Simenon. Preordered last year - Penguin are reprinting all the Simenon stories.

Longbourn - Jo Baker. Another pre-order, just out in paperback.

Edited by willoyd
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