Thursday, 1 January 2015

WHAT I READ IN 2014

The annual round up of what I read is always fun. This is partly because I enjoy remembering the books, but also because the books remind me of the year. Each title carries some flavour of where it was read. I've forgotten the plot of FIVE STAR BILLIONAIRE, but it certainly still carries the chlorine tang of a Kenyan hotel pool; while KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE still holds for me an overgrown backyard in rural France.

Highlights were GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson, a truly astonishing, almost oppressively wonderful book; A MAN IN LOVE by Karl Ove Knausgaard, which began my love affair with his massive autobiographical project; and MOTHER'S MILK, by Edward St Aubyn, a book that made me look forward to my own midlife crisis. Let's draw a discreet veil over the low lights, but it certainly included the deeply unfunny LITTLE FAILURE by Gary Shtenygart; the dull FIVE STAR BILLIONAIRE by Tash Aw, and the mysterious-to-me masterpiece AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner.

I've been tracking how many books I read by women since I read that studies show that both men and women are more likely to buy books from authors with male sounding names. Depressing. Once again I have not done very well in this area, only managing about a third female writers - not great, when I see that most of the year was contemporary fiction. Aluta continua, I suppose.

AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE by Beryl Bainbridge
CHESS by Stefan Zweig
THE SON by Phillip Meyer
THE AFRICA HOUSE by Christina Lamb
ALL THAT IS by James Salter
NORTH AND SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell
FIVE STAR BILLIONAIRE by Tash Aw
LITTLE FAILURE by Gary Shtenygart
A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry
A MAN IN LOVE by Karl Ove Knausgaard
ANNA OF THE FIVE TOWNS by Arnold Bennett
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt
THE OUTCAST by Sadie Jones
THE SEA, THE SEA by Iris Murdoch
SHOTGUN LOVE SONGS by Nickolas Butler
LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson
KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE by Shirely Ann Grau
HARD TIMES by Charles Dickens
LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg
BOYHOOD ISLAND by Karl Ove Knausgaard
THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON by Adam Johnson
THE SHOCK OF THE FALL BY Nathan Filer
GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson
THE END OF THE AFFAIR by Graham Greene
THE HISTORY OF MARY PRINCE: A WEST INDIAN SLAVE by Mary Prince
THE LIVES OF OTHERS by Neel Mukherjee
SOME HOPE by Edward St Aubyn
BAD NEWS by Edward St Aubyn
HOUSEKEEPING by Marilynne Robinson
THE THIRTY NINE STEPS by John Buchan
NEVER MIND by Edward St Aubyn
THE BELL by Iris Murdoch
MOTHER'S MILK by Edward St Aubyn
MRS CRADDOCK by W. Somerset Maugham
THE SPORTSWRITER by Richard Ford
THE GRASS IS SINGING by Doris Lessing
AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Karl Ove Knausgaard
MRS HEMINGWAY by Naomi Wood
HER PRIVATES WE by Frederick Manning
THE BLUE FLOWER by Penelope Fitzgerald
THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS by Michel Faber
EUPHORIA by Lily King
SMALL WORLD by David Lodge
CHANGING PLACES by David Lodge
JANE AND PRUDENCE by Barbara Pym
THE ROTTERS' CLUB by Jonathan Coe
THE HOUSE OF SLEEP by Jonathan Coe
TEN YEARS OF THE CAINE PRIZE FOR AFRICAN WRITING
EXCELLENT WOMEN by Barbara Pym
HERZOG by Saul Bellow
CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM EATER by Thomas De Quincey
PASSING by Nella Larsen
TRAVELS IN WEST AFRICA by Mary Kingsley

I'm excited to see what 2015's books will be.

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