A Quiet Belief in Angels, . I'm reading this at the moment. The writing is generally good, but I think that there's something slightly disturbing, perhaps even obscene, about making the deaths of little girls into something interesting enought to hold a reader's attention for a whole novel.
La carte et le territoire, Michel Houellebecq
My first Houllebecq and I was expecting something a bit more provocative. As someone says on p. 142: "Je m'attendais en vous rencontrant à quelque chose... enfin, disons, de plus difficile."
Noah's Compass, Anne Tyler
Not her best but still very readable. The main character is a man cheerful in the face of disappointment.
The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, Richard Holmes
Good for one page character sketches. What a dysfunctional lot they were.
Little Bird of Heaven, Joyce Carol Oates
Takes place in '80s America but there's a definite '50s feel about it.
Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon. This was a gift and I thought it would make better viewing than reading.
Outside in: Selected Prose, Alastair Reid
Inside Out: Selected Poetry and Translations Alastair Reid
I bought these two because I love Alastair Reid but unfortunately it turned out that I had read most of the contents already in other publications. Here's a wee taster of his poetry. This is originally a translation of a poem by the Mexican José Emilio Pachedo, but it's such a good rendering that it is Reid's voice one hears, and Scotland one imagines as the country.
I do not love my country. Its abstract lustreWalnut Wine and Truffle Groves: Culinary Adventures in the Dordogne , Kimberley Lovato. I was very pleased to get a copy of this book via This French Life. Beautifully illustrated with photographs of food, people and places in the Dordogne.
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).
Doors Open, Ian Rankin. This was not an Edinburgh that I recognized
Queen Amang the Heather: The Life of Belle Stewart, Sheila Stewart. Fascinating peep into the lives of the tinkers — Scotland's travelling people — and their music. I really wished the book had come with a CD but there are online videos of Belle Stewart's singing.
The State of Me, Nasim Marie Jafry. I wrote about Nasim's book here. One of the best things I read this year.
Mother's Milk, Edward St Aubyn. A strange book in which the characters make strange decisions. Maybe I didn't get it because I didn't realise it was a sequel to a trilogy.
Bonnie Prince Charlie: Charles Edward Stuart - Tragedy in Many Acts, F.J. McLynn. I wrote about this book here.
Adultery and Other Diversions, Tim Parks. I love almost everything that Tim Parks writes (I must read the latest, Teach Us to Sit Still, this year) and this is a great book of essays.
This is How, M.J. Hyland. I might not have chosen to buy this had I not received it as an early review copy from LibraryThing. I enjoyed it, despite its bleakness. It's a bit like Albert Camus' The Outsider only set in contemporary GB.
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby
Forgettable story of a man who adulates a reclusive rock star and his much cleverer wife.
Sharon Osbourne Extreme: My Autobiography Sharon Osbourne.
I'm not proud of having read this, not proud at all. It was in the bookcase in the villa we rented in Lanzarote and once I'd started reading it I just carried on in dreadful fascination. She really is a throughly unlikable person.
The Children's Book , A.S. Byatt
I haven't finished this yet. I lost interest about a third of the way through.
True Detectives, Jonathan Kellerman
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
You've probably all read this too. I enjoyed it, but not enough I don't think to read the sequel when it comes out.
Kafka sur le Rivage , Haruki Murakami
I loved the beginning of this novel and immediately raved about it to friends. Unfortunately, at around the halfway mark it went all Japanese magickyrealismy.
Shutter Island , Dennis Lehane
Haven't seen the film, but the book is worth reading, especially if you're thick enough not to suspect the denouement - which I am.
The Piano Teacher , Janice Y. K. Lee. About life in Hong Kong for an expat wife during turbulent times.
J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan , Andrew Birkin. Fascinating biography of the wee man.
(To reduce the boredom quotient, I've taken out all of the works read for professsional purposes - mostly criticism and biographies of RLS)
So that was the reading year that was. I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with me.