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What books did you read in 2020?


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Machines Like Me - Ian McEwan

Set in an alternate 1980s where Alan Turin was still alive - and the UK lost in the Falklands conflict - this is an interesting book in which the first realistic humanoid 'domestic help' robots have gone onto the market.  'Adam' is purchased by Charlie and the book asks the reader to think about the ethics of A.I., the nature of ownership, love, relationships and robot self awareness.  And knowingly nod as you spot differences in the history you know about England in the 80s.  Arguably this might be slightly too much to have to cope with in one story - but it is a great ride.  And reminded me of the telly programme 'Humans' a bit.

 

Lanny - Max Porter

An astonishing novel.  And if you like realistic dialogue.. bloody hell he writes good very British sounding dialogue. It sounds like it's just been overheard and notated, rather than written.  The novel is split into three sections and is reminiscent of Under Milk Wood (at least in the first section) mixed with an English folk pagan tradition only found in small villages (where a local 'Bogeyman' is talked of, in the style of The Green Man).  Three relative outsiders from the village are the focus of the attention when a boy (the titular 'Lanny') goes missing.  The writing is overtly poetic, eschews conventional punctuation, and hops between voices and minds of our heroes(?) and the local villagers and Dead Papa Toothwort the local spirit.  The lines between thought, reality, myth and dream are blurry.   And the novel leaves you feeling very uneasy.  The flavour left in my mouth was that of The Wicker Man, but more dreamlike.  Not a long read, but also not exactly easy going.  But thoroughly recommended nonetheless.  On the strength of this Max Porter's debut novel (Grief Is The Thing With Feathers) is now on my 'to read' list.

 

Back To The Future - George Gipe

Or possibly to give it its full cover title "Steven Spielberg Presents: Back To The Future: A Robert Zemeckis Film: The Novel by George Gipe based on a screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale”.

Which I read alongside B^F: The Novelization Of The Feature Film by Ryan North.

Utterly fascinating and awful.  Based upon an earlier version of the sceenplay of BTTF Gipe's novel suffers with some plot points that are tangibly worse than the finished film - but it's Gipe's terrible writing that stands out.  He contradicts himself, gives characters motivations that make them unlikable and nonsensical and has no idea of what language 80s teenagers use at all.  He also manages to suck the action out of all the action scenes, introduce amazing pauses in whats going on (Insisting of detailing how Marty spending ages 'killing time' when he's waiting to meet up with people) and the most gratuitously clunky foreshadowing I've ever experienced.  (e.g. When Doc Brown wants to phone Marty and thinks "...Fortunately it was 1985, rather than the old days, when he would have been forced to find a public telephone booth somewhere in the mall").

I rarely enjoy 'so bad it's good'.  But I was grinning all the way through this.

 

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion

The first of two sequels to The Rosie Project.  It's ...  fine.  It's more of the same, and that's fine.  If you know the first book, you pretty much are thrown zero surprising in the second book.  So you're reading along laughing at the unaware narrator who is socially unaware, but you're also made to feel sympathetic to him.  It comes as no surprise whatsoever when everything turns out happily at the end - as you always knew it would.

 

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse Hardcover – Charlie Mackesy 

A picture book.  I'm not sure why someone picked this for the book club I'm in.  It is ... fine.  If you like twee motivational/positive-thinking posters.  And the drawings are nice enough.  I'd honestly have preferred to re-read the House At Pooh Corner though, with E.H.Shepard's pictures and then re-read The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff for some spiritual insight in to what went on and discussed that instead.

 

I'm about half way through "S" by Doug Dorst (but conceived by J.J. Abrams)

I am considering giving up on this.  I don't think the rewards are worth the effort of the story/mystery as to the authorship and trite 'romance' between the to students who have exchanged notes in the margins.  I'll give it another 50 pages.

 

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39 minutes ago, uglifruit said:

Machines Like Me - Ian McEwan

Set in an alternate 1980s where Alan Turin was still alive - and the UK lost in the Falklands conflict - this is an interesting book in which the first realistic humanoid 'domestic help' robots have gone onto the market.  'Adam' is purchased by Charlie and the book asks the reader to think about the ethics of A.I., the nature of ownership, love, relationships and robot self awareness.  And knowingly nod as you spot differences in the history you know about England in the 80s.  Arguably this might be slightly too much to have to cope with in one story - but it is a great ride.  And reminded me of the telly programme 'Humans' a bit.

 

Lanny - Max Porter

An astonishing novel.  And if you like realistic dialogue.. bloody hell he writes good very British sounding dialogue. It sounds like it's just been overheard and notated, rather than written.  The novel is split into three sections it was reminiscent of Under Milk Wood (at least in the first section) mixed with an English folk pagan tradition only found in small villages (where a local 'Bogeyman' is talked of, in the style of The Green Man).  Three relative outsiders from the village are the focus of the attention when a boy (the titular 'Lanny') goes missing.  The writing is overtly poetic, eschews conventional punctuation, and hops between voices and minds of our heroes(?) and the local villagers and Dead Papa Toothwort the local spirit.  The lines between thought, reality, myth and dream are blurry.   And the novel leaves you feeling very uneasy.  The flavour left in my mouth was that of The Wicker Man, but more dreamlike.  Not a long read, but also not exactly easy going.  But thoroughly recommended nonetheless.  On the strength of this Max Porter's debut novel (Grief Is The Thing With Feathers) is now on my 'to read' list.

 

Back To The Future - George Gipe

Or possibly to give it its full cover title "Steven Spielberg Presents: Back To The Future: A Robert Zemeckis Film: The Novel by George Gipe based on a screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale”.

Which I read alongside B^F: The Novelization Of The Feature Film by Ryan North.

An utterly fascinating and awful.  Based upon an earlier version of the sceenplay of BTTF Gipe's novel suffers with some plot points that are tangibly worse than the finished film - but it's Gipe's terrible writing that stands out.  He contradicts himself, gives characters motivations that make them unlikable and nonsensical and has no idea of what language 80s teenagers use at all.  He also manages to suck the action out of all the action scenes, introduce amazing pauses in whats going on (Insisting of detailing how Marty spending ages 'killing time' when he's waiting to meet up with people) and the most gratuitously clunky foreshadowing I've ever experienced.  (e.g. When Doc Brown wants to phone Marty and thinks "...Fortunately it was 1985, rather than the old days, when he would have been forced to find a public telephone booth somewhere in the mall").

I rarely enjoy 'so bad it's good'.  But I was grinning all the way through this.

 

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion

The first of two sequels to The Rosie Project.  It's ...  fine.  It's more of the same, and that's fine.  If you know the first book, you pretty much are thrown zero surprising in the second book.  So you're reading along laughing at the unaware narrator who is socially unaware, but you're also made to feel sympathetic to him.  It comes as no surprise whatsoever when everything turns out happily at the end - as you always knew it would.

 

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse Hardcover – Charlie Mackesy 

A picture book.  I'm not sure why someone picked this for the book club I'm in.  It is ... fine.  If you like twee motivational/positive-thinking posters.  And the drawings are nice enough.  I'd honestly have preferred to re-read the House At Pooh Corner though, with E.H.Shepard's pictures and then re-read The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff for some spiritual insight in to what went on and discussed that instead.

 

I'm about half way through "S" by Doug Dorst (but conceived by J.J. Abrams)

I am considering giving up on this.  I don't think the rewards are worth the effort of the story/mystery as to the authorship and trite 'romance' between the to students who have exchanged notes in the margins.  I'll give it another 50 pages.

 

 

Yeah, I loved Lanny. I personally preferred it to Grief Is... but I may be in the minority there. Still very good though.

 

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2 hours ago, uglifruit said:

Lanny - Max Porter

An astonishing novel.  And if you like realistic dialogue.. bloody hell he writes good very British sounding dialogue. It sounds like it's just been overheard and notated, rather than written.  The novel is split into three sections it was reminiscent of Under Milk Wood (at least in the first section) mixed with an English folk pagan tradition only found in small villages (where a local 'Bogeyman' is talked of, in the style of The Green Man).  Three relative outsiders from the village are the focus of the attention when a boy (the titular 'Lanny') goes missing.  The writing is overtly poetic, eschews conventional punctuation, and hops between voices and minds of our heroes(?) and the local villagers and Dead Papa Toothwort the local spirit.  The lines between thought, reality, myth and dream are blurry.   And the novel leaves you feeling very uneasy.  The flavour left in my mouth was that of The Wicker Man, but more dreamlike.  Not a long read, but also not exactly easy going.  But thoroughly recommended nonetheless.  On the strength of this Max Porter's debut novel (Grief Is The Thing With Feathers) is now on my 'to read' list.

 

I've championed Max Porter on here a number of times; he's a top tier writer. Grief..is a fantastic book, I gift it quite a bit. One of the best pieces of work I've read that deal with death and it's impact on loved ones. I think Porter's key skill is his ability to write with brevity, yet still capable of evocative and thoughtful description which is on a par with the more established, verbose writers. 

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29. The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

 

This is the prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts which I read a month or so ago. It's set ten years before the events of that book, with an epilogue set twenty years later (i.e. ten years after TGWATG) that ties the two stories together. It's a decent book, but it suffers from three big problems: as a prequel these characters are discovering things you already know from reading the previous book, the characters are mostly uninteresting and interchangeable, and the story is too similar to its superior companion novel. The details are different of course, but overall it's just not different enough, and it feels more like a remix than a new release. I don't regret reading it but I was expecting much more after loving the first one.

 

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

9. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: A Rogue's End - Simon Spurrier & Caspar WijnGaard (graphic novel)

10. Nasher Says Relax - Brian Nash

11. Star Wars: Target Vader - Robbie Thompson & Marc Laming (graphic novel)

12: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron  - Alexander Freed

13: Christine - Stephen King

14: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Rae Carson

15: Star Wars: Rogues and Rebels - Greg Pak & Phil Noto (graphic novel)

16. Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

18. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

19. Third World War: Book 1 - Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra (graphic novel)

20. Pet Sematary - Stephen King

21. Wool - Hugh Howey

22. Shift - Hugh Howey

23. Dust - Hugh Howey

24. Star Wars: Thrawn Treason - Timothy Zahn

25. Heretics of Dune - Frank Herbert

26. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

27. The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey

28. White Line Fever - Lemmy

29. The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

 

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64. The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North. I really enjoyed North's First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and while this isn't in the same league, it's enjoyable enough with an inspired premise: the protagonist witnesses a murder and is cursed so that the victim endlessly shambles after him, causing a loved one to die should it touch him. He therefore spends his life almost constantly on the move, while being drafted as a spy to promote Britain's underhand colonial ambitions.

 

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

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

41. The Elephant in the Room

42. Annihilation

43. The Psychopath Test

44. The End is Always Near

45. The Black Dahlia

46. Galatea

47. The 8th Emotion

48. The Bottle Imp

49. The Dog Stars

50. Wilding

51. Where the Crawdads Sing

52. The Porpoise

53. The Men Who Stare at Goats

54. The Man Who Fell to Earth

55. This is Not Propaganda

56. The Girl With Seven Names

57. Mockingbird

58. County Lines

59. Breakfast of Champions

60. Brief Answers to the Big Questions

61. The Volunteer

62. Into the Wild

63. Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima

64. The Pursuit of William Abbey

 

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November road by Lou Berney .. A mob lieutenant on the run from the Kennedy assassination fallout meets a woman and kids on the run from a failed marriage. Reminded me of Ellroy and I'd highly recommend it.

 

Boys life by Robert McCammon.  The author of the classic Swan song.  The story of a growing boy, a murder mystery, grief and alligators. I'd describe it as stand by me meets stranger things and it was one of the best books ive read this year. 

 

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12. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

It's not too bad actually, concentrating on his TV work rather than a full-on life story, although I did find the snippets about his personal life beyond TV a bit tedious - so you moved to LA? Great. He goes into great detail about his dealings with Jimmy Saville, the two of them kept in contact for years after the initial show in 2000. You get some good background on the various shows, although I'll be honest and say I'm amazed he managed to make a career this lengthy, judging by how every time he was given more shows he would go through agony trying to find something to do.

 

I listened to the audio book, read by the author, it includes an extra chapter left out of the print copy concerning his encounters with "Saville truthers", people who felt Saville was unfairly treated. I can see why they dropped it but it was an interesting addition.


 

Spoiler

 

1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

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

3. The Innocent by David Baldacci

4. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

5.  Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

6. The Wall by John Lanchester

7. Hey Listen! by Steve McNeil

8. Dark Blood by Stuart McBride

9. Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter

10. Surprisingly Down To Earth, And Very Funny by Limmy

11. Why We Get The Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

12. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

 

 

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On 02/09/2020 at 20:08, little che said:

Boys life by Robert McCammon.  The author of the classic Swan song.  The story of a growing boy, a murder mystery, grief and alligators. I'd describe it as stand by me meets stranger things and it was one of the best books ive read this year. 

 

 

I love this book so, so much. Its such a great story told with an unforgettable mix of the everyday, the fantastical and the strangest tales of a kid growing up. 

 

I need to read it again now. 

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Only killers and thieves by Paul Howarth. Set in the Australian outback in the late 19th century . The story of two young brothers out to avenge a terrible crime.  This was excellent but was at times as brutal and difficult to stomach as Cormac McCarthys The Road.  The savagery of the environment and the characters alike.  It’s a debut novel but feels like the work of someone who has been writing a long time. Well recommended.

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On 06/09/2020 at 17:49, multi said:

 

I love this book so, so much. Its such a great story told with an unforgettable mix of the everyday, the fantastical and the strangest tales of a kid growing up. 

 

I need to read it again now. 

 

I read it too and really enjoyed it. How does Swan Song compare? I have it ready to go but haven't started yet.

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11. Lone Rider by Elspeth Beard

 

I’ve been doing my Motorbike Test this year and so have been reading MCN etc. I saw this recommended and having loved Long Way Round thought I would give it a try. It’s written by Elspeth who was the first British woman to travel round the world on a motorbike back in 1982. It’s brutally honest and some of the things she goes through are horrific but she tells the story with humour. One of the things I loved about it is that it’s pre-internet and mobile phones which really adds to the sense of discovery and her having to deal with things very much on her own. Enjoyed it so much I have picked up a number of similar books to read and it’s got me in the mood for Long Way Up which starts this month.

 

Next up The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

 

1. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis

2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

3. Armada by Ernest Cline

4. Blue Moon by Lee Child

5. The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

6. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

7. Die Alone by Simon Kernick 

 

8. The Ruins by Mat Osman

 

9. We Can See You by Simon Kernick

 

10. How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran

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65. Echoes by Nick Bullock. Life of a former prison guard and climbing enthusiast. There were parts that were interesting, but the prison guard/climbing analogy felt forced at times and I didn't particularly enjoy is writing.

 

66. Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I don't think this is as good as Children of Time, but it's still pretty great. Tchaikovksy is a tremendous writer and I'm slightly in awe of his speed of output while keeping his standards so high.

 

67. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. I thought this was great. I loved the writing and the way the four short stories eventually came together. To me it felt like (simplified) time travel as a way to explore themes of life, love and regrets/communications/miscommunications in relationships.

 

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

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

41. The Elephant in the Room

42. Annihilation

43. The Psychopath Test

44. The End is Always Near

45. The Black Dahlia

46. Galatea

47. The 8th Emotion

48. The Bottle Imp

49. The Dog Stars

50. Wilding

51. Where the Crawdads Sing

52. The Porpoise

53. The Men Who Stare at Goats

54. The Man Who Fell to Earth

55. This is Not Propaganda

56. The Girl With Seven Names

57. Mockingbird

58. County Lines

59. Breakfast of Champions

60. Brief Answers to the Big Questions

61. The Volunteer

62. Into the Wild

63. Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima

64. The Pursuit of William Abbey

65. Echoes

66. Children of Ruin

67. Before the Coffee Gets Cold

 

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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

5. Sober by Tony Adams

6. Caliban's War by James S A Corey

7. The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

8. Vespasian - The Furies of Rome by Robert Fabbri

9. Star Wars: Queen's Shadow by E K Johnston

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

11. How Not to Be a Football Millionaire by Keith Gillespie

12. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

13. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling

14. Vespasian - Rome's Sacred Flame by Robert Fabbri

15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet

16. I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston

 

 

17. Vespasian - Emperor of Rome by Robert Fabbri

 

The final book of a series I have adored reading - easily one of my favourites.  It's been quite the journey, not just for Vespasian himself but the excellent supporting cast and it's been great to see their stories reach their conclusions.

 

The final instalment is very good, plenty of political posturing, plenty of battle scenes which culminate in a very satisfactory end to the series.

 

I decided to tweet the author saying how much I enjoyed the series and got a reply back which was nice :)

 

This series is now right at the top of my list of books I want to see made into a TV show!!

 

4.5/5

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Thought I'd join the part late, glad I've got past 12 though. Hopefully this winter I can keep the reading giong even if the hammock is put away.

  1. Black Leopard Red Wolf- Marlon James
  2. The Wild Places - Robert McFarlane
  3. The Koh-i-Noor - Willian Dalrymple
  4. Use of Weapons - Iain M Banks
  5. Limmy: Surpringsly down to earth and very funny - Brian Limmond
  6. Barbarian Days, a Surfing Life - William Finnegan
  7. Imperial Twilight - Stephen Platt (history book on the opium war, very much in the light of Brexit. Fascinating)
  8. Britain BC - Francis Pryor
  9. Travels With Herodotus - Ryszard Kapuściński
  10. Bured in the Sky - Peter Zuckerman
  11. At Home - Bill Bryson
  12. A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro
  13. Player of Games - Iain M Banks

Lots of non-fiction as usual, stand outs this year have been Barbarian Days (amazing book about surfing) and buried in the Sky, which is essential for anyone who likes books about mountainerring. And yes I read Banks in the wrong order.

 

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Haven't updated in a while. 

 

34. Devolution by Max Brooks From the writer of World War Z, son of Mel. I bounced off this majorly. Jam-packed full of plot-holes, dislikable characters and a main plot which is utter guff (volcano leads to Yeti invasion). Predictable all the way through. 

 

35. The Institute by Stephen King Haven't read any King in years but the premise of this seemed interesting. Kids with psychic powers abducted from their powers for use of a nefarious institute. I enjoyed it for the most part but found it all a bit underwhelming and under-baked. 

 

36. The Man With All The Answers by Luke Smitherd A group of friends meet up for a boy's weekend, witness something other-worldly in the woods and it has a profound effect on them all. The main protagonist appears to have the ability to see into the future. A quick read with some promise. 

 

37. Humankind by Rutger Bregman If you're feeling shit at the state of the word this pretty upbeat book is probably worth a read. Bregman does a great job of explaining why thinks aren't quite bad as you might think. 

 

38. What Seems To Be The Problem by Mark Watson and Adam Kay Pretty engaging audiobook designed to explain the inner workings of our bodies whilst also dispelling some of the misinformation out there. Watson's patter is a bit grinding at times but Kay keeps things ticking over well. 

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

11. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

12. Zed by Joanna Kavenna

13. What I Talk About, When I Talk About Running by Haruka Murikami

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp

20. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

21. A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C. A. Fletcher

22. Jonathan Pie: Off The Record by Jonathan Pie

23. The Builders by Daniel Polansky

24. Ask A Footballer by James Milner

25. Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

26. Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan

27. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

28. Excelsior: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee

29. The Trial by Franz Kafka

30. Ramblebook by Adam Buxton

31. Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing: Life, Death and the Thrill of the Catch - Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

32. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kaawaguchi

33. The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

34. Devolution by Max Brooks

35. The Institute by Stephen King

36. The Man With All The Answers by Luke Smitherd

37. Humankind by Rutger Bregman

38. What Seems To Be The Problem by Mark Watson and Adam Kay

 

 

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Just finished The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding, #2 in the Ketty Jay series. Again for those that don't know it's a fantasy Steampunk version of Firefly the series.There's a macguffin, some double crosses, couple of pretty big set pieces- larger than the 1st book and it all ticks along at a serious clip. Swashbuckling, easy to read and I blew through it in a few days , it took me months to read "The crow road"  despite loving it too.

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68. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of the Empire by Akala. Part memoir and part history of race and racism in Britain, I thought this was a really powerful book. I listened on Audible and the author read it himself - in my experience that can often turn out badly, but it works really well here.

 

69. The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre. I knew nothing of this story (of Gordievsky, the Russian KGB officer turned British spy), so it wasn't only a fascinating insight into the spy world; it was also incredibly tense seeing how it all played out, knowing it was all stuff that really happened. The second half especially was excellent.

 

70. If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura. Had this on my wishlist for ages after seeing someone reading it on the bus and thinking it sounded interesting. I was pushed to read it when I saw it mentioned in the same breath as Before the Coffee Gets Cold, but having read it I don't really understand the comparison. For me this was nowhere near as impressive. It has an interesting premise and is moderately entertaining, but I didn't find it overly profound or moving, and suspect it probably also suffered from a sub-par translation.

 

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

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

41. The Elephant in the Room

42. Annihilation

43. The Psychopath Test

44. The End is Always Near

45. The Black Dahlia

46. Galatea

47. The 8th Emotion

48. The Bottle Imp

49. The Dog Stars

50. Wilding

51. Where the Crawdads Sing

52. The Porpoise

53. The Men Who Stare at Goats

54. The Man Who Fell to Earth

55. This is Not Propaganda

56. The Girl With Seven Names

57. Mockingbird

58. County Lines

59. Breakfast of Champions

60. Brief Answers to the Big Questions

61. The Volunteer

62. Into the Wild

63. Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima

64. The Pursuit of William Abbey

65. Echoes

66. Children of Ruin

67. Before the Coffee Gets Cold

68. Natives

69. The Spy and the Traitor

70. If Cats Disappeared from the World

 

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39. The Parade by Dave Eggers 

Eggers is up there as one of my favourite contemporary novelists. This reads like a slightly darker Magnus Mills novella. Two Westerners are tasked with creating a new road in a developing world country that has recently come out of civil war. The 200KM+ road will be used by the President to go on a unification parade from the capital through the areas that were hugely impacted by the fighting. The two Westerners have varying approaches to their task and the tale is of how they interact with the surroundings and the civilians they encounter. It's a reasonably quick read and to talk much more of it is to reveal too much. 

 

My reading challenge for this year was to read 40 books, so I'm one off now. One of the only good things to have come out of this awful COVID period has been an increase in time to read. 

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

11. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

12. Zed by Joanna Kavenna

13. What I Talk About, When I Talk About Running by Haruka Murikami

14. The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin.

15. Perfect Sound Whatever by James Acaster

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

17. On The Beach by Nevil Shute

18. Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

19. Cold Storage by David Koepp

20. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

21. A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C. A. Fletcher

22. Jonathan Pie: Off The Record by Jonathan Pie

23. The Builders by Daniel Polansky

24. Ask A Footballer by James Milner

25. Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

26. Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan

27. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

28. Excelsior: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee

29. The Trial by Franz Kafka

30. Ramblebook by Adam Buxton

31. Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing: Life, Death and the Thrill of the Catch - Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

32. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kaawaguchi

33. The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

34. Devolution by Max Brooks

35. The Institute by Stephen King

36. The Man With All The Answers by Luke Smitherd

37. Humankind by Rutger Bregman

38. What Seems To Be The Problem by Mark Watson and Adam Kay

39. The Parade by Dave Eggers

 

 

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13. Cyber Wars by Charles Arthur - really interesting look at some of the biggest hacks of recent times including the NTL data leak (Dido Harding was head of NTL at the time...), the Mirai botnet and the evolution of ransomware. Just technical enough and well-explained. 

 

14. The Hit by David Baldacci - bobbins. 

 

Spoiler

 

1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

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

3. The Innocent by David Baldacci

4. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

5.  Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

6. The Wall by John Lanchester

7. Hey Listen! by Steve McNeil

8. Dark Blood by Stuart McBride

9. Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter

10. Surprisingly Down To Earth, And Very Funny by Limmy

11. Why We Get The Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

12. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

13. Cyber Wars by Charles Arthur

14. The Hit by David Baldacci

 

 

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The Iron Jackal - part 3 of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding

 

He kitchen sinked it a bit in this one , there was all sorts in it (I'm going to list the most obvious in a spoiler, curious about ones I missed) and while it was again an easy and quick read that was rarely dull I might leave the last one in the series for a month or two to catch my breath.  Always worth a read though and probably a series I come back to when I need a   literary pick me up. Kinda reminds me of  The Expanse- a lot of ideas  that have been around a long time consolidated into a specific series so nothing feels terribly original except the fact that it's done so well.

 

Spoiler

Inspiration/ rework- POD race from TPM, Godzilla, Atlantis, Ghostbusters, a(highly amusing )reference to Assassins creed, The Descent

 

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On 07/10/2020 at 04:48, lolly said:

The Iron Jackal - part 3 of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding

 

He kitchen sinked it a bit in this one , there was all sorts in it (I'm going to list the most obvious in a spoiler, curious about ones I missed) and while it was again an easy and quick read that was rarely dull I might leave the last one in the series for a month or two to catch my breath.  Always worth a read though and probably a series I come back to when I need a   literary pick me up. Kinda reminds me of  The Expanse- a lot of ideas  that have been around a long time consolidated into a specific series so nothing feels terribly original except the fact that it's done so well.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Inspiration/ rework- POD race from TPM, Godzilla, Atlantis, Ghostbusters, a(highly amusing )reference to Assassins creed, The Descent

 

 

I listened to the first read by Rupert Degas and he's a brilliant narrator. Maybe listen to the last one as an audiobook if you fancy mixing it up!

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On 08/09/2020 at 15:55, little che said:


If boys life is his stranger things then swan song is his The Stand .   It’s exceptional.

 

Have you read any of his Matthew Corbett novels? I'm halfway Speaks the Nightbird and loving it.

 

He's such a brilliant writer, can't believe I hadn't heard of him until a few months ago.

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3 hours ago, Timmo said:

 

Have you read any of his Matthew Corbett novels? I'm halfway Speaks the Nightbird and loving it.

 

He's such a brilliant writer, can't believe I hadn't heard of him until a few months ago.

I haven't but I will certainly take a look now as I've very much enjoyed everything of his that I've read so far. 

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I dont read much.

 

This month I read - The Binding. I was expecting a best seller, easy living, popcorn for the eyes. I got something..... quite different.

 

Its a quite wonderful fairy tale about book binding. If you have something you want to forget, or others want you to forget, a binder (a magician in all but name) will seal it away in a book. Your memories are gone, and the pain will disappear. But a part of your soul is missing.

 

It turns into quite a special love story. One thing I found quite strange was that I was never really quite clear how old the protaganists were. The tale was told in a child like manner, but some of the topics were very adult. 
 

For some reason, it recalled Wuthering Heights. Im not entirely sure why. It is obviously from a entirely different literary plane, bur the passion between the characters was so powerful, and transcendent.

 

Absolutely worth the 99p I paid.

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15. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden talks about his life and what led him to make the disclosures about bulk data collection and how he ended up living in Exile in Russia. He weaves in explanations of data security and how things have changed into the story of his life, about being a teenager on the internet in the 90s and enjoying relative anonymity, and how he decided to work for the government until inadvertently discovering what they were really up to. Interesting stuff, certainly an alternative to the narrative of disgruntled contractor with stripper girlfriend who dumped the US government in it. Of course, I'm now on some list at GCHQ for downloading it - hi, guys.


 

Spoiler

 

1. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

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

3. The Innocent by David Baldacci

4. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

5.  Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

6. The Wall by John Lanchester

7. Hey Listen! by Steve McNeil

8. Dark Blood by Stuart McBride

9. Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter

10. Surprisingly Down To Earth, And Very Funny by Limmy

11. Why We Get The Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

12. Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

13. Cyber Wars by Charles Arthur

14. The Hit by David Baldacci

15. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

 

 

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71. One Day by David Nicholls. I really enjoyed this. I thought the structure (visiting the characters one day each year) really worked, and I thought the characters and dialogue were great, especially Emma. The early stages rather reminded me of Normal People, which is a good thing.

 

72. The Overstory by Richard Powers. Not completely sure how I feel about this one. It's one of those multi-character epics where the different groups are thematically linked, but not always directly so in relation to the narrative. I thought it was brilliantly written at times, and it's certainly an impressive love letter to, and essay on the value of, trees - but it's also much longer than it needed to be, and ultimately I think it's more an important piece of work than it is enjoyable as a novel. I did love the character of the tree scientist, and wanted to hear more about her than any of the others. Her character has made me buy the fascinating-sounding Hidden Life of Trees, on which she was reportedly based.

 

73. Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life. I've wanted to read this for ages, and even more so after reading Children of Ruin. In reality my high hopes weren't quite matched. Octopuses and their near relatives are clearly incredible creatures, but this book wasn't quite as revelatory an exploration of them as I had anticipated.

 

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

17. A Boy and his dog at the end of the world

18. Twelve Years a Slave

19. No Country for Old Men

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey

21. Child of God

22. Mythos

23. Cities of the Plain

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. The City and the City

26. The Nickel Boys

27. Mother Ship

28. Master and Commander

29. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

30. We

31. The Impossible Climb

32. The Three Body Problem

33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

34. Smile of the Wolf

35. Killers of the Flower Moon

36. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

37. Laurus

38. The North Water

39. Saving Missy

40. The Light Between Oceans

41. The Elephant in the Room

42. Annihilation

43. The Psychopath Test

44. The End is Always Near

45. The Black Dahlia

46. Galatea

47. The 8th Emotion

48. The Bottle Imp

49. The Dog Stars

50. Wilding

51. Where the Crawdads Sing

52. The Porpoise

53. The Men Who Stare at Goats

54. The Man Who Fell to Earth

55. This is Not Propaganda

56. The Girl With Seven Names

57. Mockingbird

58. County Lines

59. Breakfast of Champions

60. Brief Answers to the Big Questions

61. The Volunteer

62. Into the Wild

63. Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima

64. The Pursuit of William Abbey

65. Echoes

66. Children of Ruin

67. Before the Coffee Gets Cold

68. Natives

69. The Spy and the Traitor

70. If Cats Disappeared from the World

71. One Day

72. The Overstory

73. Other Minds

 

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Rendezvous with Rama- Arthur C Clarke.

 

Giant alien object enters the solar system and turns out to be worth investigating.  Nice sense of otherness and no real confrontation/whizz bang required for it to be a cracking story . Can't get my head around some of the imagery, just too vast for my tiny little mind to comprehend.

 

Brucie bonus that I now know how to spell "rendezvous" -  it's not rondayvoo apparently.

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30. Books of Blood 1-3 - Clive Barker

 

I've really got out of the habit of reading so much lately - this is the first book I've finished in nearly two months! Must try harder...

 

Anyway, as I'm trying to read all of Stephen King in order, I thought that wasn't quite enough of a challenge so I'm throwing in a few other authors as I go along. And as I'm up to 1984 in my Kingathon it means it's time for Clive Barker to make his first appearance. Although I read everything he wrote from the late 80s to the late 90s, I have never actually read these stories before, which were how he made his name as the new kid on the horror block before Hellraiser. And I can see why, although like most similar collections of short stories the quality is slightly variable, they're never less than interesting and often amazing. And besides the horror it's all a fascinating time capsule of the early 80s, mainly in the UK and especially London. I'm looking forward to volumes 4-6 which at my current rate I might get to around 2025.

 

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

9. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: A Rogue's End - Simon Spurrier & Caspar WijnGaard (graphic novel)

10. Nasher Says Relax - Brian Nash

11. Star Wars: Target Vader - Robbie Thompson & Marc Laming (graphic novel)

12: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron  - Alexander Freed

13: Christine - Stephen King

14: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Rae Carson

15: Star Wars: Rogues and Rebels - Greg Pak & Phil Noto (graphic novel)

16. Immortal Hulk: We Believe in Bruce Banner - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

17. Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol

18. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

19. Third World War: Book 1 - Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra (graphic novel)

20. Pet Sematary - Stephen King

21. Wool - Hugh Howey

22. Shift - Hugh Howey

23. Dust - Hugh Howey

24. Star Wars: Thrawn Treason - Timothy Zahn

25. Heretics of Dune - Frank Herbert

26. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

27. The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey

28. White Line Fever - Lemmy

29. The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

30. Books of Blood 1-3 - Clive Barker

31. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order: Dark Temple - Matthew Rosenberg & Paolo Villanelli (graphic novel)

32. Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren - Charles Soule & Will Sliney (graphic novel)

33. Immortal Hulk: Hulk is Hulk - Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (graphic novel)

 

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The day of the jackal.

 

Tight as a ducks bum thriller about an assassination attempt on de Gaulle. Probably one of the few books that the movie did justice to the source material. Some very questionable attitudes towards women as well as trans and gay people that is quite jarring and detract  a bit  late in the frame. Of it's time is probably the polite way of hand waving it away.

 

Also pointed out on the modern escapism podcast about the attitude of Arthur C Clarke in Rendezvous with Rama, there's one part about women that I actually thought was satire it was so out there.

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