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Jamie John

What books did you read in 2020?

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6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

 

The autobiography of the Iron Maiden singer, pilot, fencer, occasional novelist and general renaissance man. I'm a huge Iron Maiden fan so I've been looking forward to reading this for ages. It's probably the first "contemporary" autobiography I've ever read, in that it mainly covers events during my lifetime rather than the ancient history of the 1960s and earlier. And it's well written, and interesting in its own way, but at the same time it's so frustrating because of how much he deliberately leaves out. If you didn't already know better, you could get to the end of this book thinking not only has Bruce never been married or had children, but that he's never had any sort of close relationship with anyone and is probably a 60 year old virgin. Only when you get to the epilogue and find that he set himself a rule not to write about marriages, divorces or children that you realise there are huge, important chunks of his life completely missing from this book. And there seem to be some unwritten rules too, including not saying anything interesting at all, or expressing anything other than the mildest opinion, about his Iron Maiden bandmates, all of whom get the odd mention from time to time but without giving us any kind of clue about how well or otherwise they've got on for the last 40 years. Crucially this means that the central drama in that saga - his resignation from the band and later return to the fold - is covered in a very matter of fact way. He hints that we wasn't happy with the last two Maiden albums he appeared on in the 90s, but doesn't say why, and implies there was a deeper rift as the management swang into PR damage limitation mode but without saying anything about the underlying damage they were covering up. Similarly on his eventual return, there's no mention of what had changed in the band enough for him to go back. Perhaps he just realised the grass wasn't greener in solo career land - but you won't find out by reading this book.

 

Instead, Iron Maiden seems to have been his fairly dull day job, which paid the bills and gave him the wealth and spare time to indulge his real passions - fencing and, later on, flying. There are lots of details about specific flights and scary incidents, which are fine in themselves but just emphasise how little information there is about his music career - which must surely be the reason for most people reading his autobiography. Ironically the best chapters are the early ones about his childhood, student days and early career pre-Maiden, simply because he seems not to have any self-imposed statute of limitations about any of the people in his life back then, and the very last one, about his cancer diagnosis and treatment, which is very powerfully written indeed. All of which just compounds the frustration. He can write really well and so this should be an excellent insight into his life and the inner workings of one of the world's biggest rock bands. But it just isn't.

 

Spoiler

1. The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

2. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon - Simon Spurrier & various artists (graphic novel)

3. Immortal Hulk: Breaker of Worlds - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

4. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice - Claudia Gray

5. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

 

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On 27/01/2020 at 12:43, Darren said:

so I never bothered with any of the later books in the series

 

OMFG Darren, you have to read the later books! Colour of Magic is one of the worst of the entire series.... Can't believe you've not read them! You'll love 'em. Guards Guards! Mort! Small Gods! The Truth! Night Watch! Lords and Ladies!  Men at Arms! So many great books to get through. I suggest you make this the Year of the Discworld!!!*

 

 

 

*Anyone who uses that many exclamation points is clearly insane.

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1. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

 

Astonishing tale of an Everest exhibition in 1996, making reality of the extreme pressures (mental and physical) that people go through to try and stand at the top the world - if only for a few seconds. I've not seen the film but believe the author take umbridge with some of the representations of the characters in that.

 

2. The Ends of the World - Peter Brannen

 

Recommended by someone on here, in the Climate Change thread I think. This book delves into what the previous 5 extinction events the earth went through looked like and how we can relate them to what is happening today. Basically he lays out that we're not in an extinction event yet. And that given a few hundred thousand years the earth will roll on to whatever is next in store for it. BUT that humans are toying with their future for sure. 

 

3. The Body - Bill Bryson

 

In much the same vein (guffaw) as A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson does a deep dive into the body and the various aspects of it, full of interesting titbits and trivia and written in an easy to follow way. If you like ASHONE, then you'll like this too. Although leaving Death to the last chapter does mean it kinda ends a bit flat.... like life I guess. :( 

 

4. Night Watch - Terry Pratchett

 

Revisited after watching the touching BBC programme about Pratchett - using his own words to discuss his illness and death. Neil Gaimen mentions that this is his favourite Discworld novel and I have always considered it mine as well. Still brilliant. Listening/reading to this has also led me back to continue where I left off on my Discworld revisited expedition of a couple of years back. So onward to The Last Continent.

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3 hours ago, Bushtopher said:

6. Darien (Empire of Salt) (24/01)

7. Shiang (Empire of Salt) (28/01)

 

The first two books in Conn Iggulden’s fantasy trilogy. I love his historical fiction novels so thought I’d give these a go and they didn’t disappoint. 

 

These are cracking good reads. I left a massive gap between the two unfortunately so forgot some of the major players in Darien. But the Swordmasters in this were wonderful, great character work as always by Conn Iggulden.

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1 hour ago, Danster said:

 

OMFG Darren, you have to read the later books! Colour of Magic is one of the worst of the entire series.... Can't believe you've not read them! You'll love 'em. Guards Guards! Mort! Small Gods! The Truth! Night Watch! Lords and Ladies!  Men at Arms! So many great books to get through. I suggest you make this the Year of the Discworld!!!*

 

 

 

*Anyone who uses that many exclamation points is clearly insane.

 

Oh don't worry, they're all on the reading list. I've been slowly buying them up for the last couple of years when they're £1.99 in the Kindle sale. I think I've got about half of them so far. But I'm spreading them out a bit - I'm doing a (roughly) chronological-by-publication read through of a few authors/series, and I'm now up to 1982/83. Before the next Discworld book I've got to read a few more Stephen Kings, the last two Dune books and the first few Clive Barkers and Iain Bankses. But I'll get there before long...

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Spoiler

A quick primer. I read more books in the last quarter of 2019 than I had in my previous 37 years combined. This is mostly due to me stopping playing video games (the irony of posting this on here) and watching TV. 
 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 
 

2. Educated - Tara Westover. I’ve not read many books in my life but this ranks near/at the top. Devoured it over a weekend and found great value / meaning in so much of the content. 
 

3. How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog - Chad Orzel. Read this as a follow on to A Brief History of Time. Initially the ‘dog speak’ was off putting but overall the content was interesting and thoroughly digestible. 
 

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

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11. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. A story of family breakdown before and after a child's death. I think Ng is a very good writer, though I would say her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was better overall.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

 

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12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Been reading this to my 7-year old daughter. Predictably, she loved it. I found it really dull, which was a little surprising since I listened the the Stephen Fry audiobooks (as an adult) and did enjoy them. I assume that's largely down to the quality of Fry's delivery - or maybe I'm just becoming increasingly grumpy in my middle age. 

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13. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I thought this was excellent and fully lived up to the hype and my expectations. I struggled a little to work out where the original left off, as I read it 20 years ago and it had blurred with the TV show in my memory. Also, that blurring added to by the fact that the audiobook uses Ann Dowd to voice Aunt Lydia (she's excellent, unsurprising). But yeah, I thought it was really great on just about every level. 

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9. Days without end by Sebastian Barry.  Two young men struggle to survive the American civil war, protect a native American girl from harm and find a life together.   It was deeply moving and its depiction of war was brutal and terrifying.  

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2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

 

I was in Waterstones getting a load of books for my daughter and spotted this at the checkout. I have heard it mentioned so many times over the years by various Managers so I thought I'd read it. It's shorter than I was expecting so was a quick read and there were loads of bits I recognised. Can't say it changed my life or anything but interesting.

 

Previously:

 

 

 


1. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis

 

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Spoiler

 

1. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

2. How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

 

 

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

 

I've been reading this with my daughter for months and months - it's WAAAAAY too long and badly suffers from padding all the way through.

 

It's actually the first time I've re-read this - in my opinion it's comfortably the worst of the series although the introduction of some fantastic characters in Umbridge, Luna, Bellatrix, Kreacher etc mean it's not a total waste.  

 

The best thing about finishing this is that we can now start on the awesome Half Blood Prince which is one of my favourites.  And we get to watch the film too - which I have always thought is considerably better than this book.

 

It's a shame because if you condensed this into half the size, kept in all the important plot lines, it'd be one hell of a read but as it is, it's massively bloated and a slog to get through.

 

But now it's out of the way - huzzah!!

 

2.5/5

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7. The Spirit of the Dragon - William Andrews

 

This is the third part of a trilogy, that started with the absolutely brilliant Daughters of the Dragon and continued with the not quite as good The Dragon Queen. I'm happy to say that this book is just as good as the first part. It ties together themes (and characters) from the previous books, but tells its own story with its own themes that are extremely moving. I'm not ashamed to say I got a bit emotional in the closing chapters. Like the rest of the series, this is historical fiction, set in Korea and China around the Second World War, so while (most of) the characters and their specific stories are invented, they are set in and based on real events, which gives it all a terrible emotional resonance. This one is a love story, but it's no Mills & Boon romance. I don't want to say any more about it because I don't want to give away any spoilers, and that's because I want everyone to read these books - I can't recommend them highly enough.

 

Spoiler

 

1. The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

2. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon - Simon Spurrier & various artists (graphic novel)

3. Immortal Hulk: Breaker of Worlds - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

4. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice - Claudia Gray

5. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

7. The Spirit of the Dragon - William Andrews

 

 

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Spoiler

A quick primer. I read more books in the last quarter of 2019 than I had in my previous 37 years combined. This is mostly due to me stopping playing video games (the irony of posting this on here) and watching TV. 
 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 
 

2. Educated - Tara Westover. I’ve not read many books in my life but this ranks near/at the top. Devoured it over a weekend and found great value / meaning in so much of the content. 
 

3. How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog - Chad Orzel. Read this as a follow on to A Brief History of Time. Initially the ‘dog speak’ was off putting but overall the content was interesting and thoroughly digestible. 
 

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Adam LG Nevill - The Reddening

Set in South West Devon so the setting is really familiar with me. Nevill lives somewhere around Torquay.  It's a folk horror and I really loved every page of it. I'm a big Adam Nevill fan.  This one was self published and it took quite a while for him to finish it with a few re-edits.  It's a great horror novel and gory in places.  One section made me feel quite sick reading it though as it's based around one of my biggest fears.  Really good stuff.

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Spoiler

1. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

2. The Ends of the World - Peter Brannen

3. The Body - Bill Bryson

4. Night Watch - Terry Pratchett

 

5. The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett

Zipped through this, thanks to a recent Slay the Spire addiction, not bad I did enjoy the Wizards bumbling about and being clever fools, the Rincewind part of the story was not so great, albeit fine for what it was. Enjoyable from Pratchett nonetheless, as always.

 

6. This is How You Lose the Time War - Max Gladstone & Amal-El Mohtar

Picked thanks to someone recommending it on here, cracking story and really well read on Audible. The story flirts with environmentalism and sci-fi concepts but has its roots in a much older tale (of which it well aware) with a pointed reference to Shakespeare near the end. Great language, excellent snippets of life and feelings and imaginative letter deliveries!

 

7. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Read by Tim Robbins)

Not the first time I've read this, but it was a long time ago I last did. This particular reading by Tim Robbins is as good as @ZOK said it would be! :) Fabulous story from the 50s that has resonance for today's fascistic slipping, anti-expert society where we drool over the next shiny thing while our leaders do whatever they please. A little unsure about the blame game he was trying to convey - but it was the fifties so I'll not dig that particular trench too deep.

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14. The Great Gatsby. Picked this up - along with a few other classics I've never read - in the recent Audible sale. I thought the writing was great and enjoyed Jake Gyllenhall's reading, but I suspect it's a book I'd have enjoyed much more if I'd just read it on Kindle. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

 

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Spoiler

 

1. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

2. How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

 

 

4. Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey

 

Absolutely loved this.  I've read loads of Star Wars novels over the past few years, but aside from Children of Time (which I liked but not as much as others on here) I've never really dipped my toe into any other sci fi series.  So I really wanted to like this and fortunately, this is EXACTLY the kind of book I enjoy.  Tense, plenty of action, good characters, cool plot and the start of what I hope will be a series I come to love.

 

I thought the sense of scale in this was great - be it the distances between locations, the speed/gravity of travel, the descriptions of the stations in the asteroid belt - in many ways it does what a lot of the Star Wars books haven't.  Yes, it's set in space but the explanations as to how human beings are able to survive are really cool - things like the physiology of 'Belters' for example who have grown up in environments different to 1G and are therefore different to 'Earthers'.  Cool touch.

 

Above all, the story is just really strong, very well paced and it's a real page turner.  I've already bought books 2 and 3 (2 for £5 in HMV - bargain) so I'll return to The Expanse again very soon.

 

I'll be interested to see what the TV series is like because this should make a superb production!  

 

5/5

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Wolf of the Plains by Conn Igulden. Can't recall ever reading this kind of historical fiction before, but was lured by the praise on here and memories of Dan Carlin's Genghis Khan Hardcore History podcasts. There was nothing offensive in the writing, and it seems like it's true to the history, but overall it didn't do too much for me - I think largely because I didn't feel particularly emotionally invested in any of the characters as they were presented. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

 

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Spoiler

A quick primer. I read more books in the last quarter of 2019 than I had in my previous 37 years combined. This is mostly due to me stopping playing video games (the irony of posting this on here) and watching TV. 
 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 
 

2. Educated - Tara Westover. I’ve not read many books in my life but this ranks near/at the top. Devoured it over a weekend and found great value / meaning in so much of the content. 
 

3. How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog - Chad Orzel. Read this as a follow on to A Brief History of Time. Initially the ‘dog speak’ was off putting but overall the content was interesting and thoroughly digestible. 
 

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

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1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough - Rage-inducing look at how corrupt governments and individuals fleece countries and hide their money away in tax havens and the like. Everything from buying passports, property at eye-watering prices, developing countries plundered by kleptocratic leaders - makes you want o punch an oligarch until the money comes out. It's not a particularly technical read, more of an eye-opener. But seeing how little impact things like the Panama Papers had, I don't see this sort of thing changing without a world war or something.

 

2. Austerity: The History Of A Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth - This one is much more technical, talking about austerity from an economic perspective, the history of the idea, US banks being too big to fail whilst European banks were too big to bail. If you've ever seen Mark Blyth do a talk he fancies himself as a stand-up, and you can feel his more conversational style in this. Mind you you have to have your wits about you to keep up with all the jargon and "devices" when talking about things like junk bonds and all that. Stick with it and it is actually really fulfilling.

 

3. The Innocent by David Baldaacci - After all that this is pure white-bread supermarket thriller territory. No great shakes but gripping enough.


 

Spoiler

 

1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

2. Austerity: The History Of A Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

3. The Innocent by David Baldacci

 

 

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8. Different Seasons - Stephen King
 

I’ve read a lot of Stephen King over the years, and especially in the last couple as I’ve started reading them all in publication order, and this is a real treat. It’s both the least King-like so far - four short stories, only one of which has any kind of horror content - and at the same time these four stories are possibly the ultimate distilled and concentrated essence of King. They’re all basically character studies, about realistic, recognisable people facing challenging and life-changing events and situations. And when you strip away all the supernatural macguffins, that’s what all his books are. These are four very different and only tenuously connected stories, and they are all absolutely brilliant. This is another one I can’t recommend enough.

 

I know that my chronological read-through is soon going to bring me to King’s mid-80s coke-fuelled wobbly phase, but I’m not there yet. This is as good as anything I’ve read by him.

 

Spoiler

1. The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe

2. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon - Simon Spurrier & various artists (graphic novel)

3. Immortal Hulk: Breaker of Worlds - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

4. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice - Claudia Gray

5. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

6. What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson

7. The Spirit of the Dragon - William Andrews

8. Different Seasons - Stephen King

 

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9. Foundation by Isaac Asimov - Haven’t read this for over 20 years, but felt the urge to revisit the series. As good as I remembered. 

 

10. Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade. 
Should really have bought this as an audiobook. He’s a fairly distinctive comedian and think this would have been much better in his voice than my interpretation. It’s pretty self-indulgent and really needs his delivery and surrealist tone. 

Spoiler

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

2. Recursion by Blake Crouch

3. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

4. The Future Starts Here by John Higgs

5. Man's Search For Reason by Victor Frankl

6. Nomad by Alan Partridge

7. Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

8. Animal Farm by George Orwell

9. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

10. Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade

 

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16. The Stars' Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry. I bought this years ago when it first came out, but never got round to starting it, then picked it up when I recently saw it in an Audible sale..I vaguely recalled it was like a modern version of The Count of Monte Cristo, but never knew quite how much so - it's basically a remake, right down to the fact that the lead character's name is an anagram of Edmund Dantes. Anyway, despite knowing the entire story right from the start, I loved it, because even a slightly pale imitation of The Count of Monte Cristo is a brilliant thing - and this version doesn't have 300 pages of courtly meanderings to negotiate in the middle either. 

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. This is How You Lose the Time War

2. The Uninhabitable Earth

3. Grief is the Thing With Feathers

4. Room

5. Flowers for Algernon

6. The Emperor of all Maladies

7. The old man and the sea

8. American War

9. The Hod King

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. Everything I Never Told You

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

13. The Testaments

14. The Great Gatsby

15. Wolf of the Plains

16. The Stars' Tennis Balls

 

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17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world. I grabbed this having seen the positive comments on here. I certainly enjoyed it, but not with quite the same level of enthusiasm as others.

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18. Twelve Years a Slave. Picked this up in the recent Audible sale, having not previously read it or seen the film. I thought it was a pretty incredible story, and the author's restraint in the tone he used to recount the events - in spite of their obviously awful nature - was really powerful. 

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On 03/02/2020 at 12:24, Danster said:

 

OMFG Darren, you have to read the later books! Colour of Magic is one of the worst of the entire series.... Can't believe you've not read them! You'll love 'em. Guards Guards! Mort! Small Gods! The Truth! Night Watch! Lords and Ladies!  Men at Arms! So many great books to get through. I suggest you make this the Year of the Discworld!!!*

 

 

 

*Anyone who uses that many exclamation points is clearly insane.

 

Seconded! Darren is almost lucky to have so many great unread books! Start with Mort, Guards Guards or Wyrd Sisters 

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Nah, I know it’s not ideal but I’m going to read them in publication order, in parallel with my Stephen King read through, and bringing in a few other authors as I go along. I’ll get through them all eventually!

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Spoiler

A quick primer. I read more books in the last quarter of 2019 than I had in my previous 37 years combined. This is mostly due to me stopping playing video games (the irony of posting this on here) and watching TV. 
 

1. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab. 3rd book in the Magic series (maybe the last?) and thoroughly enjoyable. 
 

2. Educated - Tara Westover. I’ve not read many books in my life but this ranks near/at the top. Devoured it over a weekend and found great value / meaning in so much of the content. 
 

3. How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog - Chad Orzel. Read this as a follow on to A Brief History of Time. Initially the ‘dog speak’ was off putting but overall the content was interesting and thoroughly digestible. 
 

4. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer. Started over Christmas and finished early in the New Year. I like Jon’s writing style (See ‘Into The Wild’) and found the story equal parts harrowing / saddening. 

 

5.  Eames - Gloria Koenig.  An overview of Ray and Charles Eames and their main works / output.  A quick read with some interesting facts.

 

6.  Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World - Ben Orlin.  20 years after studying A-Level Maths, I finally understand the context and application of concepts that my tutors were trying to drill into me.  I might pick up Orlin's other book on Mathematics on the strength of this.

 

7.  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.  My first taste of his work and it took a little getting used to after solely reading V.E. Schwab for fantasy fiction over the last few months.  I warmed to the story and characters as the book progressed and ultimately found the story satisfying by the end.

 

8.  The Forever War - Joe Haldeman.  I took this recommendation from this thread (thanks @joemul) as a first foray into the work of sci-fi literature.  I found the book very enjoyable, although perhaps the closing chapters of the story felt a little rushed?  Some of the language used made me smile as I guess it dates the book to the time it was written (1970s I believe).  I found some interesting links to A Brief History of Time (I guess the general space / time physics elements) which I only read for the first time a few weeks ago.

 

9.  Alice - Christina Henry.  This was recommended by a friend (cautiously) as she said it was quite dark.  It is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale (or perhaps a follow-on) with adult themes.  The language was very easy going and time with the book flew by.  I'm going to check out the sequel if that passes for a recommendation.

 

10.  The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne.  A really pleasant tale that covers the entire lifetime of the narrator from conception to... well... the end.  I liked the structure, found the characters compelling, believable enough in most of their actions and the story contrived 'just enough' to keep it fun.  It did touch me emotionally once or twice too.

 

11.  Recursion - Blake Crouch.  Second favourite book of the year (after Educated).  I loved every page / minute of my time with this and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

12 - Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton.  I picked up knowing absolutely nothing about the story.  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and found myself constantly tripping over words and certain sentence structures.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the setting (modern day in England) as I prefer my fiction to be set further from home (either geographically or time period).  It was a 2/3 star book for me until the final act which, to be fair, did deliver on the story and bumped it to a 3/4 star overall experience.

 

13 - Where The Crawdsds Sing - Delia Owens.  Picked this up blind not knowing that it was a generally very highly rated novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with it and would recommend it unreservedly.  

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