A year of books…

1 01 2014

Well hello there 2014!

Last year I tried to keep a record of every book I read, and rather annoyingly the total comes to 99! A fair few were audiobooks or eBooks – I do a lot of travelling by train for work, and they’re handier when packing light.

The list is in vague order of time (but not always) and at the end I’ve picked my favourite previously-unread book from a few sort-of-genres. I don’t do reviews, so don’t expect much blurb…

Oh, and by the way – the little ‘r’ means it’s a re-read.

Right, here we go…

The Impossible Dead – Ian Rankin
Standing in Another Man’s Grave – Ian Rankin
Doors Open – Ian Rankin
Blood Hunt – Ian Rankin
Witch Hunt – Ian Rankin
Bleeding Hearts – Ian Rankin
Beggars Banquet – Ian Rankin
The Shining – Stephen King r
Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks r
The Bridge – Iain Banks r
Espedaire Street – Iain Banks r
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks r
Disolution – CJ Sansom
Close to the Bone – Stuart MacBride
Dark Fire – CJ Sansom
Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham r
Scaredy Cat – Mark Billingham r
Lazybones – Mark Billingham r
The Burning Girl – Mark Billingham r
Lifeless – Mark Billingham r
Buried – Mark Billingham r
Death Message – Mark Billingham r
Bloodline – Mark Billingham r
From The Dead – Mark Billingham r
Good As Dead – Mark Billingham r
The Dying Hours – Mark Billingham
Report For Murder – Val McDermid
Soverign – CJ Sansom
Common Murder – Val McDermid
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
A Good Hanging & Other Stories – Ian Rankin
Harvest – Jim Crace
A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch r
Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch r
Whispers Under Ground – Ben Aaronovitch r
Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch
We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
American Gods – Neil Gaiman r
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman r
Watching You – Michael Robotham
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
Police – Jo Nesbo
The Bat – Jo Nesbo
Laidlaw – William McIlvanney
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King
The Ocean at The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
Fortunately The Milk… – Neil Gaiman
Dixie O’Day: In The Fast Lane – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy
Paddington Races Ahead – Michael Bond
Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
In the Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak
The Incredible Book Eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers
Penguin – Polly Dunbar
Love Splat – Rob Scotton
The Life of Charlotte Bronte – Elizabeth Gaskell
Captain’s Purr – Madelaune Flloyd
Wuthering Heights (graphic novel) – Siku/Adam Strickson
Stuck – Oliver Jeffers
The Works – Pam Ayres
You Made Me Late Again – Pam Ayres
The Quarry – Iain Banks
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes – Neil Gaiman
The Falcons Malteser – Anthony Horowitz
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder – Jo Nesbo
NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
Chu’s Day – Neil Gaiman
The Heart & the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers r
The Complete Verse & Other Nonsense – Edward Lear
More About Boy – Roald Dahl
The Green Ship – Quentin Blake
Iceland’s Bell – Halldor Laxness r
In One Person – John Irving
The Water Method Man – John Irving r
What Would You Do with a Wobble Dee Woo? – Colin West
The Coming of the Kings and Other Plays – Ted Hughes r
Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam – Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton
Oliver & The Seawigs – Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
Noah Barleywater Runs Away – John Boyne
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party – Alexander McCall Smith
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection – Alexander McCall Smith
Fergus Crane – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
More Than This – Patrick Ness
A Boy & a Bear in a Boat – Dave Shelton
Yeti and the Bird – Nadia Shireen
Saints of the Shadow Bible – Ian Rankin
Crazy Hair – Neil Gaiman r
The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett r
The Way Back Home – Oliver Jeffers
The Storm Whale – Benji Davies
Cockroaches – Jo Nesbo
The Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid
The Last Temptation – Val McDermid
There Are Cats In This Book – Viviane Schwarz
Beneath The Bleeding – Val McDermid
How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth – Michelle Robinson
The Torment of Others – Val McDermid
The Great Paper Caper – Oliver Jeffers
There’s a Shark in the Bath – Sarah McIntyre

And here are my favourite new reads…

Crime Fiction
Standing in Another Man’s Grave – Ian Rankin
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Mr Rankin at his twisty-turny best, and a massive relief!

Fantasy
The Ocean at The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
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Blew my socks off. Made me cry. And laugh. And frequently made me put it down, stare into space for a few minutes contemplating the Wonderful Words I’d just read, pick it up again and re-read the same Wonderful Words over and over again in awe before carrying on.

Fiction
The Quarry – Iain Banks
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I don’t really need to say anything about this.

Young Fantasy (Well that’s what I’d class it as!)
Fortunately The Milk… – Neil Gaiman
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Laughed my pants off! Loudly, snortily, and in a public place. Hilarious from start to finish, beautifully complemented by Chris Riddell’s perfect illustrations, and made even better by hearing it in Mr Gaiman’s voice in my head after listening to him read a bit of it in Ely Cathedral earlier in the year.

Picture Book
There Are Cats In This Book – Viviane Schwarz
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I LOVE THIS! It has flappy bits! And cats! And balls of wool to throw at cats! It’s BRILLIANT!

And now to crack on with my 2014 list…

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Rose’s BookCross – The First…

16 06 2013

Wotcha!

Well, I’ve just liberated the first book in my bookcrossing experiment! I wonder if anyone will pick it up? And I wonder if anyone will let me know if they have? Will they read it? Will they like it? Will they keep it, or pass it on? Or will it just get swept up with the rubbish by the cleaners? I hope not…

The first book I’m releasing into the wild is… *drum roll…*

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Transition by Iain Banks. I couldn’t really choose any other author at the moment, could I? It’s a cracking read, and I also really enjoyed the audiobook version (even if it was abridged) when it was released as a series of free podcasts on iTunes a few years ago.

I’ve made a laminated bookmark with some blurb on too, which is tucked inside…

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I set it free on the 1730 East Coast London King’s Cross to Edinburgh train, somewhere between Grantham and Newcastle… The train was busier than I’d expected (no free tables or seats to leave it on!) so I thought I’d ask the chap behind the counter in the buffet car if I could leave it there. He was very lovely, seemed to like the idea, and asked what book it was in case he fancied reading it himself!

Goodbye book, I hope you get read and enjoyed…





Goodbye Mr Banks…

11 06 2013

I discovered one of my favourite authors by accident.

It was 1991, I’d just moved down to London, and was looking for something new to read one evening. A housemate offered up his small collection of books, and a couple stood out to me for their rather cool black and white, graphical cover designs.

Both were by a bloke I’d never heard of: Iain Banks. One was called The Wasp Factory, the other Espedair Street. I chose The Wasp Factory.

It blew my mind.

It shocked me.

Some bits, when I was reading it on the bus, made me look nervously – and a tad guiltily – over my shoulder.

I loved it.

I wanted more.

So I read Espedair Street.

Totally different. But the same dark humour, lighter belly laughs, shocking twists, sadness, joy and pure unusualness.

And so began my Iain Banks addiction. I discovered he was also Iain M. Banks, and despite not being much of a fan of science fiction I couldn’t get enough of The Culture, and his vision and insight. I still want a drone. I’m sure they’ll become reality at some point – I’ll wager Apple will get there first…

Iain Banks, in whatever guise, has baffled me, made me laugh out loud and giggle guiltily, disturbed me, made me cry, made me throw a book across the room in frustration, then scuttle after it, pick it up, and carry on reading.

He increased my desire to want to write, along with John Irving, Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett, E. Nesbit, Stephen King and others.

He made me realise that things I’d thought were taboo can be written about. And with a humerous twist.

He became the first author I ‘followed’ – in that I’d buy him in hardback as soon as a new book was released – a privilege later also assigned to John Irving, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A select few.

He was on my (very short) list of Writers to Meet – if only to giggle embarassedly at and get a book signed. I achieved this with John Irving and Terry Pratchett (and more recently – sort of – with Ian Rankin, but that was random and I was too shy to ask him to sign a beermat!), and I’m heartbroken to have missed the opportunity with Mr Banks.

Lately I introduced my partner to him – as he’s a musician and a whisky-lover, I pushed Espedair Street and Raw Spirit his way. He’s not a big novel reader, so I was chuffed he read Espedair Street, and enjoyed it. Raw Spirit, with its whisky and cars, was more up his street. I hope he tries more… (Iain Banks books, not whisky and cars…)

In April when I read his announcement, it made me cry.

Now, too soon, he’s left us. Us, his readers, who hang on to his every word, who read his books again and again, and itch for the arrival of the latest outpouring from his incredible imagination. Ah, the selfishness of “us readers” – most importantly of course, he’s left his Adele, his family, his friends…

Some of the words from his fellow writers have been beautiful; in particular Val McDermid voiced via Twitter what I think a lot of his fans were thinking: “Iain Banks, RIP. Grateful for what he left us, angry for what he’ll miss and we’ll miss.”

I wonder how many people in the world picked up one of his books, poured themselves a drink, and raised their glass to him on Sunday? A lot, if the amount of photos tweeted to Ian Rankin after he tweeted a photo of a-book-and-a-wee-dram is anything to go by.

His books.

There’s only one left.

That’s hard.

There’s only one left.

Part of me wants to run away to a wee cottage in the wilds of Scotland on my own to read it with a bottle of whisky. But I don’t really like whisky, and I’d miss my other half. So I’ll probably read it on trains, at home, and perhaps take myself to the local pub for the last few chapters, with a pint of Deuchars (and a tissue) for company.

So. Please join me in expressing deepest condolences to his family and friends.

And when you have a moment, raise a glass and drink to his honour; to the wonderful worlds he created, to the words he’s left us. To his raw spirit.

As Ian Rankin put it so perfectly, “Away the crow road far too soon…”

Goodbye Mr Banks, and thank you. Thank you for retractables, for champagne hedgehogs, and for Every Single Word.

ps – Thank you to Val McDermid and Ian Rankin for giving me their permission to quote their tweets.